Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Picks

Continued to build on my good week the previous week. 7-3 the past two weeks. Still missed my best bet and did not intentionally try to jinx the Giants, despite what you may think. I like a lot of underdogs this week and was debating going with 5 dogs.

philadelphia +3 1/2 WASHINGTON
Again, this is not a reverse jinx. This is a pick based on the fact that not only do I not think the loss of Vick will hurt the Eagles, I think it will actually help. They'll give the ball to McCoy more and turn it over less. I also think the league has figured out RGIII and Kyle Shanahan has yet to adjust. Redskins have been inept on offense in their last three games.

indianapolis +9 1/2 NEW ENGLAND
The Patriots defense has been pretty awful. They have trouble holding leads and the Colts are definitely frisky. This seems like too many.

PITTSBURGH +3 1/2 baltimore
Another bet here that the loss of the starting QB is overrated. At least for the first week.

DALLAS -7 cleveland
This is when the Tony Romo Cowboys start to make their move. If Dallas wins here and beats the Redskins on Thanksgiving, highly likely, and the Giants continue to struggle, they could sneak in and take the NFC East.

tampa bay -1 1/2 CAROLINA

So I didn't go with an underdog for my best bet. And I went with a team that has been incredibly hot and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. But the spread is so low all they have to do is win, and I like their chances.

Last Week: 3-2 (2 points)
Season: 22-28 (16 points)
Best Bets: 0-1 (2-8)
Home Favorites: 0-0 (5-15)
Home Underdogs: 1-0 (4-2)
Road Favorites: 1-2 (7-8) Road Underdogs: 1-0 (5-3)

Friday, November 16, 2012

What Do You Give Me For? Paula Broadwell and Madeiline Stowe

What do you give me for the woman at the center of the David Petraeus scandal, Paula Broadwell, and Madeiline Stowe, the actress sure to to play her in the movie version?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Trout, No Doubt

The race for American League MVP between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout has become one of the most controversial in recent memory, odd since it really isn't even close, when you look at it the right way.
The common description of the race is old-school vs. new-school, the stat geeks vs. the baseball guys. But really it's common sense vs. faulty logic.

These are the main arguments for Miguel Cabrera:
He won the Triple Crown which hasn't been done since 1967. Miguel Cabrera hit 44 home runs in 161 games. Josh Hamilton hit 43 in 148 games. So if you give Cabrera the award just because he led the league in home runs, you're basically doing it because Josh Hamilton got hurt.

He led his team to the playoffs. Granted, Cabrera was hot down the stretch and Trout cooled off but all wins count the same in standings. But you also have to consider that the Tigers won 88 games and the Angels won 89. And Trout missed the first 20 games, and the Angels went 6-14. With Trout on the roster the Angels had a .585 winning percentage. With Cabrera the Tigers were .543. Add to that the fact that all the teams in Trout's division (Rangers, A's and Mariners) had better team ERAs than any team in Cabrera's division. So if you give Cabrera the award just because his team made the playoffs, you're basically doing it because the White Sox (and the Twins and Royals) suck.

Now that I have shot holes through the two biggest arguments in favor of Cabrera, let's look at the biggest thing Trout has going for him. The award is called Most Valuable Player. Not best hitter.

Defense: according to UZR, Trout saved the Angels 11 runs with defense. Cabrera cost his team 10. Would this race even be a race if Trout had 11 more homers, and Cabrera 10 fewer? No, and runs saved on defense are every bit as important as runs created at bat.

Base-running: Trout created 12 extra runs with his base-running thanks to his 49 steals (an 91% success rate) and Cabrera cost his team three runs.

The reason it comes down to little things like defense and base-running is because offensively they are so close. Cabrera has slight advantage in OPS, but Trout takes OPS+ because of park advantage. Both players are exactly tied in wRC+ (weighted runs created plus), also an adjusted number. Those are all very good measures of total offensive production.

Unlike RBI, which is frequently used to bolster Cabrera. Sure driving in runs is important, but runners need to be on base in order for that to happen.

This is not just a debate of stats vs. scouts. It's the right stats vs. the wrong stats. This is not about WAR, notice I didn't even mention it. It is about the things that WAR tells us. That these two players are very equal in offensive production. But in value (the other key word in MVP) they're not even close. Trout contributed more to his team in the field and on the bases, enough to overcome the slight, very slight, deficit in offensive production. And he did it all at a position that is much more valuable (harder to fill) than the one Cabrera played.

And that is why Mike Trout deserves to be the 2012 AL MVP.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Junk in Our Trunk

In order to have give the children of Fair Lawn a memorable Halloween in light of Hurricane Sandy, the town arranged two "trunk or treats" at local schools. Here's how it works. You park your car in the lot and hand candy to children out of the trunk, or in the cases of SUVs and minivan, out of the rear hatch/door. The event was scheduled to run 5:30 - 7:30, so we got there at 5, to make sure we got a parking spot.

And to decorate our car.

By 5:20 kids had started trick or treating. It's much more efficient and easier to go car to car in one big parking lot where everyone is a willing participant than it is to go door-to-door ringing bells while grumpy neighbors pull the blinds.

But by 6:00 we were out of candy. Many people who came to trunk or treat but couldn't get into the parking lot, or didn't want to get trapped, at least gave their candy to other people to give out. But many others did not. We went through 11 bags of candy total.

The firefighters supervising the event originally told us we had to stay until 7:30 but they eventually relented and let the first wave of cars leave. Since we had all run out of candy. The trunk or treat went well, it could use some improvements, but hopefully we won't have to hastily arrange a Halloween alternative because of downed power lines for a very long time.

And the kids had a blast and got a lot of candy...

...three pound's worth. And that's really what matters.

Here's a few Halloween bonus pictures:

Me, scaring a 5th grade banana at the Radburn Elementary School Halloween Dance.

Chase dressed as Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Julian as Nemo. And yes, this is the best picture of the two of them in costume.

And Julian wearing the Cobra Kai costume.

Song of the Week

"Nobody's Perfect" - J. Cole featuring Missy Elliott
"Nobody's perfect, but you're perfect for me."
That's a message I often say to Mrs. Poop. We're not perfect, we're perfect for each other.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The NFL is Poop - Week 10

Head Cases
With all the focus on protecting quarterbacks, particularly from head injury, three big name QBs were concussed this week, and only one on an illegal hit. Jay Cutler was hit under the chin, which drew a flag (but was offset by a penalty on Cutler), but the hits on Michael Vick and Alex Smith were legal.

All three quarterbacks had to leave the game, though Cutler stuck around long enough to throw another interception. I know many people think the pendulum has swung too far and the game has been unnecessarily altered in order to protect star quarterbacks but this is why.
Quarterbacks are so vulnerable, and so important, that they merit this kind of protection. If an offensive lineman gets hurt, even a star one, it is not going to ruin the entire team. But now these three teams, plus the Steelers (with Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury) face uncertain seasons because of injuries to their quarterbacks.

I Hope That Wasn’t a Super Bowl Preview
Everyone was really looking forward to the Bears-Texans game expecting it to be a Super Bowl preview. Let’s hope not. The game was horrible, 6 turnovers, only 19 points. I know both teams have good defense but this was more of a case of bad offense.

A Tie is Like Kissing Your Sister
Another disappointing game was the 49ers and Rams game ending in a tie. In this day and age when 50-yard field goals are routine, it’s hard for a game to end in a tie. Some major ineptitude must take place, and that’s exactly what happened. On the first play of overtime, Sam Bradford threw an 80-yard pass to Danny Amendola, which would have set the Rams up at the 2-yard line. But there was an illegal formation, no one lined up on the line of scrimmage outside the tackler. The Rams didn’t score. Then David Akers missed a field goal for the 49ers. He’s only of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. The Rams got another chance, and Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein nailed a 53-yard field goal…BUT the play clock had run out. He missed the ensuing 58-yarder. But those weren’t the only screw-ups in this game. The referees let the clock run for a 1:12 while doing a measurement, and no one caught the error until it was too late to be corrected.

Popping Bottles
Mercury Morris and the 1972 Dolphins are celebrating another season without an undefeated team with the Atlanta Falcons loss to the Saints. The Falcons never gave off the air of the team that could go through a season unbeaten. They weren’t dominating, they were squeaking out wins against bad teams, and they almost did it again. They were stopped twice from the 1, and once more from the 2 turning it over on downs. Then they got it back again and Matt Ryan flung one deep to Roddy White, who was open, but he turned the wrong way. The more interesting storyline from this game may be whether the Saints can actually emerge from the hole they dug themselves and make the playoffs.

Game of the Week
New England Patriots 37 Buffalo Bills 31

Things always get crazy when these two teams get together. Their first matchup this season the Bills took an early lead, but the Patriots exploded to win 52-28. This time it was the Pats who took the early lead, and the Bills almost came back. Their three drives in the 4th quarter ended with a fumble deep in Patriots territory, a touchdown, and then an interception in the end zone when a touchdown likely would have won the game.

Game of Next Week
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

Luck versus Brady. The changing of the guard in the AFC perhaps?

A Brief Rant About the Redskins
No loss this week, which is nice. Hopefully they can get back to the offense they had early in the season when they were actually putting points on the board. This week we face the Eagles who will be starting Nick Foles, and then Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. Picture of the Week
Awesome stiff arm by Chris Ivory on his touchdown run that helped the Saints beat the Falcons.

If the Super Bowl Were Played Today Houston Texans 23 Atlanta Falcons 16 Not as much change here as I thought we might see but the Texans dominated the Bears and the Falcons looked bad.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I Want My Life Back

Two weeks ago today I stayed in the city after work due to the impending storm. That night our power went out. The following day we spent the evening at a friend’s house, going home only to sleep. The next day was Halloween; we hit the mall to try to give the kids some semblance of a normal Halloween. That was a disaster. Then Mrs. Poop fled to her parents’ house. I stayed home alone in a 55 degree house Wednesday and Thursday night before fleeing for Connecticut as well. Got home Saturday, was home Sunday, Did trunk or treat Monday night (more on that in another post) before working a million hours on Tuesday and then dealing with another snowstorm and finally getting back to normal, kind of, over the weekend.
That’s a rough synopsis of the last two weeks. I am sure many of you feel the same way. Superstorm Sandy and the subsequent recovery were major disruptions to our established routines.

Ship Out

Syracuse beat San Diego State in what may be the last college basketball game on an aircraft carrier.
The Orange were led by their slashers, Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams and CJ Fair. Those three shot 20 of 41 for 49 points.
The game was played on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego. It was originally scheduled for Friday night and was delayed until Sunday afternoon because of the weather forecast which called for wind and rain.
Once the game got going it was really cool to watch. The sun was out, there were shadows on the court, the backdrop was gorgeous.

But I think the elements really hindered both teams. Syracuse made only 1 of 4 3-pointers. They were smart enough not to shoot them. San Diego State shot 1 of 18. Clearly the wind was affecting long range shots. The teams made only 25 of 52 free throws.

But at least they got to play. The two other games on aircraft carriers (Ohio State vs. Marquette on the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and Florida vs. Georgetown on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida) were both canceled. Florida and Georgetown even played the first half, but couldn't come back after halftime because of moisture on the court.

The aircraft carrier games are a cute novelty and they raise money for worth causes for injured returning soldiers. But after these debacles I think it might be best to hold futures military fundraising basketball games indoors.