Monday, October 27, 2014

ATTENTION WORLD: BILL HAS FIGURED OUT HOW TO GAMBLE ON THE NFL


His lead in to last Friday's picks column:

I rededicated myself to understanding football gambling better. I mean, why not? What else was I going to do? One morning, I was killing time power-walking on a treadmill before a doubleheader of The Equalizer and A Walk Among The Tombstones when I came up with a gambling brainstorm: What if there were a better way to figure out NFL records than just wins and losses? For instance, Arizona battled back in Week 1 to beat San Diego 18-17 on Monday night — the Cardinals got the “win” and San Diego got the “loss,” but really, that was an “either/or” game, right? For gambling purposes, there had to be a better way to capture that.


I went through the first few weeks of games and redid everyone’s records, tagging each game as either a legitimate win or loss, an ass-kicking win or loss, or an either/or game. 

There IS a way to capture that: it's called point differential.  (To be fair, this new "system" of Bill's also incorporates some measure of standard deviation that season long point differential does not capture.  To be realistic, thinking that this is some kind of revolution for the world of spread bet analysis is unfiltered idiocy.)

And if anything else happened in that game with gambling repercussions — a comeback win, a blown lead, major dysfunction, whatever — I tagged that, too. And again, I did this because I had an incredible amount of time on my hands.

Well, I'm glad he put that time to good use.  He went 3-11 against the spread (a Redskins cover of +10 tonight could get him all the way to 4-11!) this week.  That's actually kind of hard to do.  Getting that far away from a .500 record really requires a special brand of dumbassery that few possess.  I guess Bill has it.  

If you are the kind of person who sincerely listens to what Bill Simmons has to say about gambling, or anything else, you're fucking stupid and you need to do something about that.  Also, with the MNF game still in progress, underdogs went 6-8 against the spread this week, putting them at an even 58-58 for the season.  The Year of the Dog rolls on.





Friday, October 24, 2014

Super top secret NFL gambling update; Simmons explains the science of NBA watchability (Part 1)


First, a quick update: underdogs went 8-7 against the spread last week and now stand at 52-50 on the season.  Is it the Year of the Dog?  IT IS THE COUSINFUCKING YEAR OF THE DOG YOU PUCKERING ASSHOLES.  We'll see what the next few weeks bring, but my guess is this: underdogs will cover about as often as they fail to cover, and anyone who makes picks based on gut feelings developed in August about whether this is the Year of the Dog is a board certified dumbshit who should be ignored, and later thrown down a well.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of his suspension, Bill has seemingly taken his ball and gone home when it comes to NFL picks columns.  We'll know for sure by this afternoon, but he was unsuspended as of last Thursday but Bill Barnwell still wrote last week's picks column.  This could be ESPN quietly telling Simmons to just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA.  It could be Simmons quietly telling ESPN that he'd rather just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA.  Or it could be Simmons just being a moody little bitch.  We can't know for sure, but I do know this much: in Simmons's absence, Barnwell sure as hell started sounding like Simmons.  Fucking disappointing.  Here's what I mean--some samples from Barnwell's picks column from two Fridays ago:

I have to admit I was tempted to just make this entire Week 6 preview out of J.J. Watt GIFs from Thursday night’s Texans-Colts game and call it a column. I know that he’s not better at quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick, if only because Fitzpatrick has spent his entire career prepping to play quarterback and Watt is built to play defensive line, but if you gave Watt six months’ notice that he was going to be Houston’s quarterback, don’t you think he would have a shot at being pretty good at it?

WHO SAYS NO????

JETS (+9.5) over Broncos

The referee assigned to this game is 33-year-old rookie Brad Allen, who joined the NFL this year after refereeing in the ACC. I have to admit that he is my new favorite referee, if only because he seems to be taking everything incredibly seriously. Allen makes his various motions for penalties like he just reread the rulebook and practiced against a mirror for hours, like he’s a new teacher being observed by the principal. Here’s his first call, a hold, from Thursday’s Packers-Vikings game:

[gif of very robotic and precise holding call signal from Allen]

That’s incredible! If Dave Chappelle’s white-guy voice could be a holding motion, it would be Brad Allen’s. Compare that to the holding call of a veteran referee like Gene Steratore:

[gif of very casual and lackadaisical holding call signal from Steratore, which still pretty much looks like Allen's]

Steratore is ready to blow this joint, man. By the time he’s grasped his wrist for the hold, he’s already ready to signal the side and get those chains moving. Get in, get out, go home. Allen, meanwhile? He’s grabbing his arm firmly, dropping his elbow all the way to his waist, looking directly into the camera … just textbook stuff. It’s Don Draper and Bob Benson in stripes. I’m excited about the Brad Allen era.

Sure sounds like something Bill would write (and a subject Bill would find fascinating, because other than the NBA, he doesn't care about sports), doesn't it?

In fact, the Eagles have more defensive and special teams touchdowns through five games than any other team in NFL history. Four teams were previously tied for the record with six, most recently the 2003 Chiefs, who were going through the absolute climax of Dante Hall hysteria. Most public schools in the K.C. area shut down as children insisted upon solely communicating by throwing up the X. It was a crazy time.

LOL!  Barnwell also went 4-9 against the spread that week, further evidence that either he's turning into Simmons or he let Simmons write his column for him.

So what about last week? A little more of the same, except that he went 9-4 against the spread, because he's not a fucking idiot. But still, read this shit:

WASHINGTON (-5.5) over Titans

You played SimCity, right? You know, the original SimCity, the one you had on a gigantic 5.25-inch floppy disk, that SimCity. Do you remember how bad your attempts at a metropolis were when you played SimCity as a little kid? They were bizarre, nihilistic works of art.

Residential buildings just slapped next to smokestacks. A decaying commercial zone, victimized by a statistically improbable number of simultaneous earthquakes and Godzilla attacks. Electrical lines building a grid totally unconnected to any power plant. For public safety, six police stations and six fire stations placed directly next to one another next to a road that never loops back on itself and just runs out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and the totally useful sports stadium, presumably attended by the one poor, confused family who showed up to live in one of your residential zones for a couple of in-game seconds before immediately leaving in a terrified huff.

Washington vs. Tennessee is the football equivalent of that city you created.

Oooh!  But which unwatchable and irrelevant 1970s movie is that game like?  Which season of The Challenge is it like?

Texans (+3) over STEELERS

OK. It’s time to talk about this ubiquitous J.J. Watt commercial that’s taken over television in the past two weeks.

[entirely too long seven breakdown of this piece of uninteresting corporate advertising follows, treating the ad like it was written by Hemingway and containing zero good jokes along with a bunch of dumb references and rhetorical questions]

Look, I know Barnwell has always been prone to throw a couple mediocre jokes into his analysis.  But during Simmons's suspension, it sure seemed to get a lot worse.  I hope Barnwell goes back to being the old Barnwell soon.  Simmons-Barnwell hybrid sucks ass.  Anyways, Simmons did do his fucking dumb as rocks guess the line podcast this week, so maybe that means he's back; but he also didn't tweet a Thursday night pick, so who the fuck knows.  Whatever the outcome, if it results in less Simmons in the world, it's a good thing.

Anyways, Simmons has been busy lately; the suspension appears to have mercifully cut his NBA team preview video series off after he and Jalen Rose got through the 11 worst teams in the league.  (I say mercifully, because holy fucking flying cats, did you try to watch any of those?  That shit wouldn't fly on local access cable at 4 AM. Other than the money, why is Jalen Rose working so much with this numbnuts?  Oh, that's right.  It's probably about the money.)  But he and Zach Lowe have released their annual "watchability rankings" for NBA teams, designed to let League Pass subscribers know which teams are worth checking in on from time to time.

For once, I'm not going to hammer on the premise of a Simmons article.  This is actually something worth writing (not necessarily by Simmons; but by somebody).  TNT and ESPN show so many goddamn unwatchable games it makes steam come out of my ears.  It's bad enough that some of the good teams from big cities play ugly basketball, like the Bulls and Rockets.  It's 1000 times worse that regardless of what a shitpile the Lakers and Knicks are, they're each going to be on national TV like 25 times this year.  It's horrid.  The Lakers, now that Nash is out for the year, could very well lose 60 games.  The Knicks should make the playoffs, but as I've ranted about before, that's because of the joke of a division they play in.  So for fans that don't want a Cavs/Nets or Thunder/Lakers blowout to be their only TV option, League Pass makes sense (even though it runs pretty poorly a lot of the time), and thus we might as well have a watchability ranking.

Of course, whether this is a good idea and whether it is executed competently are two entirely different things.  And not even the presence of Lowe is enough to keep this from turning into a blimp crash.  Come one, come all, marvel at Bill's obvious idiocy even when he is talking about the one sport he kind of knows, he's discussing a reasonable topic, and he has an awesome wingman.


BUT FIRST!  Someone decided that Bill "Voice Made For Photography" Simmons needed more TV time.

VIEWING ALERT!!!!! At 7 p.m. ET on Thursday (10/23), The Grantland Basketball Hour makes its triumphant debut on ESPN.

I didn't watch!  And I never will!

Your hosts? Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, who will be joined by Jeff Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, Michelle Beadle, Zach Lowe and rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. We made up only two of those guests.

LOL!  Those last two guys were brutally murdered!

Watch us live, add us to your DVR season pass, do whatever you need to do.

Never.

One hour of free basketball chatter, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN. See you there.

I'd rather eat glass.

Last year’s League Pass Rankings kicked off with Simmons writing, “If I watch more than 75 total minutes of the Suns this season, I’m gonna feel like I failed.”

You failed years ago, buddy boy.

So clearly, you came to the right place for intelligent analysis and an all-encompassing feel for the league. Our mission remains the same: Figure out which 2014-15 NBA teams have the best chance to steal our attention, night after night, as we’re watching five games at once. Both Simmons and Lowe awarded all 30 teams between 0 and 10 points in each of the following five categories.

Using categories and a points system is a fine way to do this kind of thing.  A fine way, that is, until Simmons then spends most of the article questioning the legitimacy of his own horseshit manufactured rankings, that are a function of his own fucking system.  It makes me want to stick a fork in an outlet.

Category No. 1: Relevance/Zeitgeist
Interpreted as “relevance to the playoff picture,” 

Sure.

“relevance to NBA junkies on the Internet,” 

What does that mean?  I'm not saying it doesn't exist as a separate concept from relevance to the playoff picture, but what the fuck does it mean?

and “general day-to-day relevance.” 

I do know what that means.  It means absolutely nothing.  It was included here to make Bill feel like he's been extra smart and analytical.

Category No. 2: Hoops Nerdgasm Potential

I don't think nerds of any kind, including sports nerds like me, should embrace the term "nerdgasm."  That makes us even less likely to ever get sex without paying for it.

Covers special events like, “OH MY GOD, Phoenix is playing Bledsoe, Dragic and Isaiah Thomas right now with Gerald Green at the 4 and a Morris twin at center!” 

OH MY GOD THEY'RE PLAYING SMALLBALL, THAT'S THE CRAZIEST SHIT EVER, I JUST JIZZED ON MY IPAD!

— as well as everything Pop and Carlisle are doing on a daily basis, 

Meh.  Those guys are both great coaches, but is it really particularly titillating to see what lineups they've constructed or which players Pop gave the night off?  This isn't really "nerdgasm" (last time I'm typing that, by the way) material.  It's more like, stuff that you appreciate when you see how many games the Spurs and Mavs are winning.

everything that Stan Van Gundy and David Blatt might try this season, and everything that gets Haralabob Voulgaris fired up on Twitter (in a good way). 

SVG is a great coach but the Pistons are trash.  I don't think he can prevent that.  David Blatt is a rookie NBA coach who will probably make a bunch of dumb mistakes this year.  Not seeing the appeal.  Voulgaris is a guy who writes sometimes funny tweets about the NBA.  If you're watching games because you hope he's going to tweet about them later, your priorities are backwards.

If you’re coaching so creatively that you coax Zach into one of those 4,500-word columns with 15 embedded YouTube clips, you’ll score highly here.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Not that Lowe isn't a good writer, just that, meh, I watch games to watch games.  I'm not a coach.  I don't need to be impressed by the 14 different screen and roll variations the Cavs draw up, in part because I won't recognize them as the game is happening anyways.  And this should go without saying, but neither will Bill.  He may not even recognize them in the YouTube clips AS he's reading the Lowe article.

Category No. 3: League Pass Minutiae
Covers the quality of announcing teams (a.k.a. The Sean Elliott Mute Button Factor) and sideline reporters (we love you, Abby Chin!), as well as uniform colors, crowd behavior, any wide shot of empty seats on TV (sorry, Miami), the home arena’s floor pattern, the mascots, and for a second time, the mascots. You know, all the stuff Zach obsesses over.

Judging based on uniform colors, crowd behavior, shots of empty seats, or home arena floor patterns is completely retarded.  But mascots rule, and I have absolutely no problem with judgment based on announcing teams.  Any non-Boston hockey fan who's ever been subjected to Jack Edwards knows that a terrible announcer can ruin a game with his or her buttfuckery.  (Fortunately, to my knowledge there is not a single local NBA announcer who comes within a mile of Edwards.)

Category No. 4: Individual Player Appeal
If you employ the likes of LeBron, Durant or Curry on your team? You’re looking great for this category. If you revolve your team around Boogie Cousins? You’re looking great with one of us and shockingly decent with the other one. But if your only exciting player is missing the entire 2014-15 season with a broken leg? You might be looking at a Robert Parish — a.k.a. the double zero.

HE WAS A CELTIC GO FACKIN' C'S!  This category is pretty dumb in the context of this article, as that is the exact kind of thing a "hoops nerd" should NOT care about.  First of all, watch good teams because they're good, regardless of whether they're the Clippers or the Spurs.  Second of all, pretty much every guard and small forward in the NBA is exciting to watch if you're a basketball fan, as are a good number of the big men.  If you judge a game's watchability on OOOH DO THEY HAVE A GUY WHO DOES CRAZY DUNKS AND CAN HIT 3s, then you should watch every game.

Category No. 5: Unintentional Comedy/Irrational Affection/Personality Intangibles

Turn the Simmonsmeter up to 11.

This intentionally vague category covers moments like “Enes Kanter just took his 10th 3 of the night,” “Byron Scott is defending Phoenix’s 3-guard offense with Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Steve Nash right now,” 

Hey, that's double counting!  We already saw that offense when we ejaculated everywhere back in Category No. 2!

“Boris Diaw is feeling it,” any text or tweet that simply reads “Dante Exum!!!!,” 

Don't text your friends the name of a player who just made a good play.  That's a dumb thing to do.

“Marcus Smart just dove for a loose ball and inadvertently took out the scorer’s table while down 25 with 90 seconds to play,” 

HE'S BAWSTAHN TOUGH!  SOUTHIE TOUGH, EXCEPT THAT HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO LIVE THEY-AH!  HE'S ONE OF US!  THE ANTI TOM BRADY!  FACK YOU!

“Giannis is starting at point guard,” 

He's not.

“Dion Waiters is feeling it,” “Dirk just made his seventh straight one-legged fall-away,” “Blake Griffin just

And so on and so forth.  You get it.  This is a fine category, except that like I just said, pretty much every game features guys who can do incredible things, so... just watch.  No need to make a big production out of your pre-watching.

We each scored all 30 teams on our own, then combined those scores into a bigger score that you’ll read below. The lowest possible score? Zero. 

Thank you for clarifying what 0 times 10 is.

The highest possible score? 100. (Hypothetically achieved by the 1986 Celts, 2005 Suns, 2011 Heat and 1982 Lakers.) 

THE 1982 LAKERS DID NAWT DESERVE THIS HYPOTHETICAL HONOR!

This is getting kind of long, so I'm not going to do a full detailed breakdown.  Below are some LOWlights (lol) from Part 1 of Bill's rankings, which are written as a dialogue between him and Lowe.  I am very glad they chose that format because it makes it easy to tell when something utterly inane was Bill's idea versus Zach's idea.  Not that it would be hard to do if their thoughts were combined together; but this makes things that much clearer.

Re: the Pacers

Simmons: They have to trade David West within the next three months, right? In the Bill and Jalen Preview for the Pacers (coming Wednesday!), Jalen smartly pushes for a West-to-Charlotte trade for former Hoosier Noah Vonleh or former Hoosier Cody Zeller. 

Bill thinks Jalen is so well-spoken.  Also, big thumbs down for the HEY THAT PRO TEAM SHOULD TRADE FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE SAME GEOGRAPHICAL AREA idea fart, regardless of whether it was Jalen or Bill who came up with it.

The Pacers should bottom out for a year and get a meaningful asset for West … right?

ALWAYS TANK WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE!  NEVER BE AVERAGE!  EVERY TEAM SHOULD BE TRYING TO WIN 82 OR 0 GAMES!  THERE IS NO INBETWEEN!  Well, it's really not that simple ever, or in this case, as Zach will patiently explain.

Lowe: Hmm … West has a $12.6 million option for the 2015-16 season, and it’s the rare option that presents an interesting choice for the player. As a 34-year-old on a semi-expiring deal, West just doesn’t have a lot of trade value. I don’t see the Hornets giving up a potential good young big for him, but they are the right sort of team for a trade like this — a longtime sad sack with some irrational exuberance and/or desperation to accelerate their rise.

Right.  So West 1) is old and declining, so less of an asset in that sense, and 2) isn't actually an expiring deal, so way less of an asset in that sense.  Thus maybe it's not in Indiana's interests to go into the season saying WE GOTTA UNLOAD THIS GUY.  ASAP.  DON'T CARE WHAT WE GET FOR HIM.

Simmons: We disagree — it’s difficult enough to find a playoff-proven veteran/locker room leader that West’s value might be higher than you think. 

"Hey you, guy who knows more about the NBA than I could ever possibly know about anything--you are wrong.  West is a PROVEN 15 and 7 guy in the playoffs.  People forget that."

I would flip Zeller for him in 2.2 seconds. Imagine Charlotte becoming a genuine contender. 

Because they traded Zeller for West?  Did the Pacers throw in a magically healed Paul George who's ready to play right now, too?

And even better, imagine West and Lance improbably reuniting. 

Ah.  That's what this was all about.  LANCE STEPHENSON IS GOOFY AND KIND OF RAN HIMSELF OUT OF INDIANAPOLIS.  WHAT IF DAVID WEST AND HIM WERE TEAMMATES AGAIN.  WHO SAYS NO.

If it happens, I hope someone takes a cell phone video of West rejoicing upon hearing that he got traded to a contender … and then realizing that he has to play with Lance again.

Oh man!  That's what sports are REALLY all about!  Viral videos of what athletes do when they're not playing!  Bill needs a job at TMZ.

Re: the Magic

Simmons: Serious question: Would this team win more games with Jacque Vaughn or Mo Vaughn coaching?

Awesome joke.  Straight out of 1997.

Re: the Nuggets

Simmons: I bumped them two points just because marijuana is legal in Colorado — on a night with a low number of games, at least we can watch Denver’s home games and guess which opponents may have wake-and-baked that morning.

LOL!  Marijuana reefers!  That's what some guys who visit Denver will be smoking, you can bet on that!  Remember when that one kid you grew up around who was always getting into trouble started smoking weed at a relatively young age, and would look all high and stuff?  This will be like that!!!!!!

Re: the Celtics

Simmons: What about Rondo for the Derrick Williams/Reggie Evans expirings, Ben McLemore and a top-seven-protected 2015 pick? That trade makes the 2015 NBA season 5 percent more fun — admit it.

NO ONE DENIES THIS.  Rondo could take the Kings all the way to 10th place in the west!  The Celtics would get the better end of the deal!  WHO SAYS NO??????????????

Lowe: I think Boston would do that. 

They're going nowhere fast and Rondo is in the last year of his deal.  You fucking think they might want to pick up McLemore in exchange for someone they don't need and a little bit of expiring money that they also don't need?  But why in the Christ would the Kings do this?  So they can clear slightly more money next offseason?  They're ditching Rudy Gay and the cap might go up, or at least will definitely go up in two offseasons.  They're not just going to hand McLemore to Boston because that would give Bill a case of the warm fuzzies.

But let’s say the cap sticks at the projected $66.3 million for 2015-16, then rises into the mid–$80 million range in 2016-17 — an outcome that is not a foregone conclusion on either side, by the way. That could present Boston with the chance to re-sign Rondo this summer at a number that ends up looking good. I’ve always thought that was the best scenario for them, barring a knockout trade package — to get Rondo back below the max and use him as a lever to draw the next big star to Boston.

Ah, there you go.  THAT'S why the Kings would do it--so they can help Boston achieve their best case scenario with regard to Rondo--trade him for an asset, and then re-sign him after a tanking season and keep the asset.

WHO

SAYS

NOOOOOOOOOOO

Re: the Heat

Simmons: Here’s a clip of Dan Le Batard walking the streets of Miami in February.

["Milk was a bad choice" clip from Anchorman, a movie that came out more than ten years ago and was quoted to the point of death as of 2009 or so]

GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!!!!!!

[Same clip, because why not double down on your unfunny and untopical reference?]

Re: the Bucks

Simmons: That’s part of my 2016 sports czar campaign — regular citizens will no longer be allowed to fund stadiums for professional sports owners if those owners spent the past two years destroying a players’ union in a one-sided lockout, creating an owner-friendly salary structure and doubling/tripling the value of their franchises with the latest media rights megadeal. The good people of Wisconsin shouldn’t spend ONE PENNY on that new stadium. Tell those billionaires to screw off.

Simmons, still pandering to Bucks fans after all these years because 50 diptards wrote the owner an email asking them to hire Bill for the front office.  Kind of sad.  Really sad, actually.  Related note: fuck NBA owners.  At least Bill and I can agree on that.

Re: the Hawks

Lowe: And yet despite all this — all the beauty of Mike Budenholzer’s system, all the talent on hand — you ranked them 10 spots lower than I did. Nothing divides us like the Hawks and Grizzlies. The Hawks are a delight to watch, and they have an awesome new court. Also, should we call Mike Scott the regional manager? The office manager? Does going by “Mike” instead of “Michael” invalidate this? The character Michael Scott was awful at basketball, but he was a chucker — just like Mike Scott!

Lowe wanted to make sure he got in on the untimely and unfunny references game.

Simmons: Why not just call him “The Office”? 

OHMYGOD THAT WOULD BE PERFECT LET'S DO IT!!!!

Would you consider Charlotte a 2015 contender if they flipped Noah Vonleh AND Cody Zeller for Al Horford? Who says no? Sorry … you know I have to do this every 1,200 words. It’s part of my contract.

DIE.

Simmons: Two pectoral tears, a racism scandal, a crazy ownership situation and possible tanking … maybe the Hawks ARE ranked correctly.

OH!  Thank goodness.  I was worried that the arbitrary ranking system you invented for this column might have produced some incorrect outputs.  Good to see it's functioning flawlessly.  NEWS FLASH ASSHOLE, IT'S YOUR SYSTEM.  YOU DON'T LIKE IT, JUST CHANGE IT AND RANK THE TEAMS HOW YOU WANT TO.  STOP DIDDLING YOURSELF AND JUST WRITE ABOUT BASKETBALL.  FUCKING TITS.  I HATE THIS GUY.

More from part 2 of this Simmons/Lowe "discussion" next week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bill's Guide to Gambling (alternate title: How to Lose Money By Being Stupid), Part 3 of 3



Whoa, I kind of took a break there.  I figured that Bill was on a break (check his Instagram for awesome pictures of him golfing!  Actually maybe don't bother), so I might as well take one too.  Here's what I learned: blogging is fun.  Let's finish Bill's comprehensive gambling guide, since he's back from suspension tomorrow.

I'd like to say for sure that even if I were hired to work at Grantland like Bill Barnwell (who did a slightly-less-awful-than-Simmons job of making picks in Bill's absence), I wouldn't turn into a Simmons disciple, but I can't, because you literally couldn't pay me to work at Grantland.  At every salary level reasonably able to be offered by a somewhat popular sports website owned by a big media company, I would sooner panhandle than work for anything associated with ESPN.  But I won't say "You couldn't pay me enough" to work there.  Because you know what?  For $1,000,000 per second, I will happily sell my soul to Disney.  No problem.  Just give me the contract.

OK, back to Simmons.  Underdogs went 13-16-1 since my last post, making them 44-43 on the year.  So remind me--is it the year of the dog?

Rule: Don’t forget — it’s the Year of the Dog!!!


Ohmygod it is!  It's the year of the dog!!!!!!

Write it down! YEAR OF THE DOG!!!!!!!!! Got it?

I literally did!  I literally just did!!!!  Where is my free money?!?!?!?!?!

Before we hit the rest of the Week 1 picks, I wanted to mention my “circle” theory 

About as useful as my "Larry B has a huge penis" theory.

that I keep bringing up in podcasts but haven’t properly explained in print. 

Ah, THAT'S the problem with whatever half-baked waste of pixels he's about to spew--it hasn't been explained in PRINT.  Finally!

We don’t have legitimate NFL juggernauts along the lines of the early-’90s Cowboys anymore; the Salary Cap Era makes it impossible. 

This is true.  He should have just ended the article right here.

By January, every playoff team just hopes they became one of the seven or eight contenders with a chance to win the Super Bowl.

This is not true.  He should have ended the article back there.  Sure, some pretty good teams (2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens) just want to hang around for as long as they can and sometimes it works out.  Then there are really awesome teams (2012 Broncos) that flat out fall apart when the chips are down, and specifically, fall apart because they fail to execute, not because "the league has too much parity boo hoo!"  This being a Simmons article, though, I suppose the oversimplification of something fairly complex is to be expected.  TEN NBA TEAMS WILL CONTRACT BY 2012.  WHO SAYS NO.

Think of it this way: You always leave an NBA season saying, 

Think of it this way: if you are writing a guide to gambling on the NFL, what's the first thing you want to do?  Yes, that's right, you took the words right out of my brain: you start babbling about the NBA.

“The best team clearly won,” with very few exceptions (2013 and 1988 being the most recent). 

Even for Bill, this is staggeringly retarded.  I'm not even sure I want to go into explaining all the times between 1988 and 2013 that the "clear" "best team" did not win, because I want to go to bed before 4 AM.  The 2011 Mavericks were clearly better than the Spurs, Bulls and Heat?  The 2007 Spurs were clearly better than the Mavericks and Suns?  The 2006 Heat, with all of their 52 wins, were clearly better than the Pistons or Spurs?  And so on and so on and so on, perhaps most glaringly demonstrated by the 1995 Rockets, who went 47-35 and finished 6th in the West (Hakeem started 72 games, by the way, so it's not like they were hampered by an injury to their HOFer), but who were apparently "clearly" the best team in the league.  Holy dinosaur shit, this is bad, even for Bill.  

You always leave an NFL season saying, “One of the best teams caught a few breaks, took care of business and deserved to win.” 

Back to being right, except you can replace "an NFL" with "a sports season of any kind at pretty much any level."

Most of it makes sense, but not all of it: the Helmet Catch, 

IT'S NAWT FAY-UHHHHH

Rahim Moore, 

Take it from this Broncos fan: it makes perfect sense.  Moore was a 2nd year safety who was on the team for his hitting and run support, not his coverage.  He never should have been on the field for that play.  It's really not particularly surprising that he got beat deep on that play.  Flacco threw that pass like 90 yards in the air.

Kyle Williams, 

The dude fumbled a couple of times.  He's not currently on an NFL roster.  It's not like he was revered for his non-fumbling ways prior to that NFC championship game.  It was chilly and damp that evening.  This is not nonsensical in any way.

Santonio Holmes dragging his feet … 

You mean an awesome athlete make a great catch?  THE BASKETBALL EQUIVALENT OF THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, EXCEPT IN 2013 AND 1988 (I didn't mention it earlier, but of course him listing that year is a dig at the Lakers because of course it is; they won more games than anyone in the NBA that year but were CLEARLY NAWT THE BEST TEAM even though they were defending champions).  THE BASKETBALL ARIZONA CARDINALS WIN THAT SUPER BOWL 10 TIMES OUT OF 10. 

I mean, in the words of Tony D’Amato, it really is a game of inches.

Someone give this man a Pulitzer.  How many seconds do you think he spent on that line?  Four?  Zero?  Did his editor add it for him, just to see if anyone would notice? 

So you want to break into that January circle. Seven contenders usually do it, then there’s always that eighth late bloomer/sleeper/surprise team that unexpectedly crashes the party. 

No.  No.  That's not at all an accurate characterization of how the NFL playoffs work.  Fuck off and die, you hack.  

We’ll call that team the Wonk Team, 

THAT'S A BUZZWORD PEOPLE SOMETIMES USE!  VERTICAL INTEGRATION MACHINE AT WORK!

since things always get wonky as soon as the Wonk Team reveals itself. 

2013's Wonk Team: the Decatur Staleys!  Watch out, NFL!

Check out how the last seven seasons played out. (Teams got two asterisks if they won the Super Bowl and one asterisk if they lost the Super Bowl.)

2013: Denver (13-3, alpha dog),* Seattle (13-3),** New England (12-4), San Francisco (12-4), Carolina (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), Cincy (11-5), San Diego (Wonk Team).

I hate that I'm even engaging on this, but Kansas City was clearly the wonk team, and they lost their first playoff game, because they weren't that good.  That is a common characteristic of what I'm assuming Bill calls "wonk teams," and just because the GREATRIOTS lost a Super Bowl to a #6 seed mediocre Giants team seven years ago, now all of a sudden we get to read about how wonk teams always gum up the works.  Sure, Seattle and Denver were pretty clearly the best teams in the NFL last year, and they met in the Super Bowl, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WONKY CHARGERS?

2012: Denver (13-3, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), New England (12-4), Houston (12-4), San Francisco (11-4-1),* Seattle (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Baltimore (Wonk Team).**

Hey, look at that!  The division champion Ravens, who kicked the shit out of the Patriots in New England after squeaking by the Broncos, just happen to be a Wonk Team (tm)(patent pending).  What a surprise!

2011: Green Bay (15-1, alpha dog), New England (13-3),* New Orleans (13-3), San Francisco (13-3), Baltimore (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4), Houston (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

Same for the 2011 division champion Giants, who were obviously a wonk team, while the terrible mediocre Texans were not!  Funny how that works!  I can't even go through the rest of this list.  If you want to develop brainrot, by all means, be my guest.

2010: New England (14-2, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), Pittsburgh (12-4),* Baltimore (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), NY Jets (11-5), Chicago (11-5), Green Bay (Wonk Team).**

2009: Indy (14-2, alpha dog),* New Orleans (13-3),** San Diego (13-3), Minnesota (12-4), Dallas (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Arizona (10-6), NY Jets (Wonk Team).

2008: Tennessee (13-3, alpha dog), Carolina (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4),** NY Giants (12-4), Indy (12-4), Baltimore (11-5), Philly (9-6-1), Arizona (Wonk Team).*

2007: New England (16-0, alpha dog),* Green Bay (13-3), Dallas (13-3), Indy (13-3), San Diego (11-5), Jacksonville (11-5), Seattle (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

From 2007 through 2013, the alpha dog made three Super Bowls and lost all three … and the Wonk Team won four Super Bowls and lost a fifth. That makes no sense whatsoever, 

Sure, the teams that won the Super Bowl were good teams that maybe dropped a couple regular season games they shouldn't have, but had great QBs (some would say ELITE in the case of one Joe Flacco) and played their best during the playoffs.  This makes no sense, if you're fucking stupid.  If you have an IQ over 70 it's pretty unsurprising.  QUICK, BRING UP ANOTHER HALF BAKED THEORY THAT'S PATENTLY IDIOTIC!  IT MIGHT SAVE THIS IDEA!  

but it also makes SOME sense if you believe that (a) the “Nobody Believes In Us” factor matters way more than we realize, 

/finger gun to the head blowing own brains out motion

and (b) the NFL playoffs are a freaking crapshoot.

They are.  Like the playoffs in any American pro sport.  Since I am an AMERICUNN I love me some high stakes playoff drama, but I have to admit, European soccer (for all its insufferable fans and dumb idiosyncrasies) kind of has a good thing going with the whole no playoffs thing.  Really, do we need to keep letting 86 win MLB wild card teams win the World Series?

Here’s what my 2014 circle looks like: I’m locking down Seattle (my 2014 guess: 14-2), New England (12-4), Denver (12-4), San Diego (11-5), New Orleans (11-5) and Cincy (11-5) as my six true contenders. 

Disappointingly reasonable guesses, even if the Saints look crappy and the Bengals suddenly look shaky.  I can't believe the damn Patriots got their act together yet again.  I hope Brady throws a 99 yard pick six that costs them a playoff berth in week 17.

The seventh contender: the NFC North champ (Green Bay or Chicago are both going 10-6 and it will come down to the 17th tiebreaker). And for the Wonk Team, let’s go with either Green Bay (if it’s a wild card) or A Team Coached By A Harbaugh Brother. That’s right, San Francisco and Baltimore — I’m looking at one of you to get your wonk on.

By which he means, both of those teams are good, so TRY NOT TO SHIT YOUR PANTS if one of them does well in the playoffs, because HOLY SHIT NO ONE BELIEVES IN US EXCEPT EVERY PUNDIT WHO BELIEVES IN EVERY TEAM ON A WEEK TO WEEK BASIS.

One more note: I don’t think San Francisco AND Green Bay will make the playoffs. 

They will.

At gunpoint, I’d say Green Bay is in, San Fran is out … and Baltimore will be the Wonk Team. My other three playoff teams: Tampa, Indy and Philly. So there you go.

I can't dump on him too hard because so much of this is actually somewhat reasonable, but Jesus, the Bucs?  Why?  The Lovie Smith factor?  Mike Glennon?  Hard to understand what he was going for there, until you realize he has his head up his own ass most of the time.

Why didn’t I decide on a Wonk Team to win it all? 

Because wonk teams don't exist?  Because it's idiotic to say a 9-7 team will win the Super Bowl?  It doesn't matter, no one gives a shit about your consistently shitty predictions?

I believe the Seahawks are talented enough and hungry enough to become our third back-to-back champs since 1994. 

How he managed to not make the cutoff 1999, and point out that only New England has repeated since then, is beyond me.  Maybe he actually is changing.

Unlike so many other defending champs, they didn’t lose three or four key free agents; they didn’t get fleeced of their slightly overqualified assistant coaches; they didn’t have to overpay any of their Super Bowl heroes; and they actually might be more explosive than last season because of Russell Wilson (edging closer and closer to his prime) and Percy Harvin (finally healthy). 

Meh, mostly reasonable, but after 6 weeks, it looks like Wilson is kind of bumping against his ceiling already, the defense is still great but no longer devastating, and Harvin isn't a huge difference maker.

They have the best home-field advantage in any sport. 

#hottaek!  Not that it's a dumb taek, it's just 1) been said like 50,000 times in the last 5 years by everyone, and 2) every good team has a good homefield advantage; that Seattle's seems to be a little bit better than most really isn't a "win the Super Bowl" kind of difference maker.

And best of all, everyone writes off defending champs for all the reasons mentioned earlier — we just assume the NFL is too much of a crapshoot, and that you’re never getting that lucky twice.

JUST LIKE EVERYONE WROTE OFF THE 1987-1988 LAKERS, WHO WERE OBVIOUSLY NOT THE BEST TEAM IN THE NBA, EVEN THOUGH THEY LOST NO ONE IMPORTANT FROM THE PREVIOUS SEASON AND WON MORE GAMES THAN ANYONE IN THE REGULAR SEASON. 

You know what? That’s awesome for the Seahawks. In a weird way, they’re almost the “Nobody Believes In Us” champs. 

This is the stupidest line in this whole column; pundits and fans everywhere picked the Seahawks to repeat.  But Bill has decided that didn't happen, with no evidence to support this contrarian position presented, because it fits better with his narrative.  Bill is truly a dickhead.

I have them beating my beloved Patriots in the Super Bowl, followed by four straight months of my dad complaining, “I can’t believe Pete F​-​-​-ing Carroll just beat us in the Super Bowl.”

If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, I will stop paying attention to sports forever.  Don't let me down, rest of the AFC.  I kind of like sports.

More from Barnwell/Simmons later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bill's Guide to Gambling (alternate title: How to Lose Money By Being Stupid), Part 2




[SIMILAR DISCLAIMER TO THE ONE I INCLUDED BEFORE PART 1 OF THIS SERIES, BUT SLIMMED DOWN A LITTLE: I'm about to write about NFL gambling, and criticize Bill heavily for his gambling analysis and picks. However, I understand that like Bill, I am terrible at NFL gambling, and I would never tell anyone that I had some kind of a system that was going to help me win this season or ever. Now that I have that out of the way again, let's begin.]

These ahhh dahhhk, dahhhk times for one Mistah Simmons.  DAHHHK.  The Red Sox have now gone one seasons without winning a World Series (FIRE FARRELL!), the Celtics are going to be shitty again this year (silver lining: their division will be super shitty right along with them), and now the GREATRIOTS are finally in the process of falling apart after more than a decade as a good-to-great team.  Turns out you can't just trade a pro bowl offensive lineman for peanuts and still give your aging QB enough time to go through his reads.  Anyways, to top it all off, now he's suspended  by his employer which means he can't shine light upon the world by giving it his weekly picks.  But since Grantland's readers want a picks column anyways, starting last week (and hopefully continuing indefinitely, even after Simmons gets back), that responsibility fell to Bill Barnwell.  You know, the guy who writes about football at Grantland who actually can analyze his way out of a wet paper bag if he has to.

I've heard complaints that he's a little Simmonsy in his own right, specifically in that he oversimplifies things.  That may be fair.  But here's an important counterpoint: at least he's not a goddamn moron.  How'd he do with the picks?  Oh, ho hum, just 8-4.  Small sample size of course, but let's see how the next two weeks unfold.  I'm going to guess that taking Barnwell's advice over the course of a full season would end up saving you a lot of cash versus taking Simmons's.  But hey, even though Simmons is a dipshit of galactic proportions, he's a hardworking dipshit.  Let's run through the rest of his gambling rules, and see how they played out during weeks 1 through 3.

Rule: As always, be superduperduperduper careful of the Obvious Pick.

What the Christ does this even mean?  This means nothing.  This is a post hoc face-saving device you bring up when the dust has settled and you just lost $500 in a weekend.  "Should have TOTALLY been aware of the possibility that the Bucs wouldn't just cover in Pittsburgh, but could actually win outright.  So dumb to put the Steelers in all my parlays.  That was a total Obvious Pick.  Can't believe I missed it."  (Barnwell got that game right, by the by.)

Whether it’s some allegedly hot team coming off a big win, the team that just looked awesome on Sunday or Monday night, the team that every “expert” is picking on Thursday and Friday, the most obvious candidate for your Eliminator Pool (like Chicago at home against Buffalo this week), 

Lulz.  Indeed, Buffalo did go into Chicago and beat the Bears.  Simmons, of course, picked this game incorrectly because of course he did.  BILL!  YOU DIDN'T WATCH OUT FOR THE OBVIOUS PICK!  

or the team that’s getting picked 85 percent of the time on ESPN’s Pigskin Pick’em. Every week — repeat: EVERY WEEK — there’s always one Obvious Pick. Just be careful.

"Here's a rule that you don't necessarily have to follow, but you should be aware of it, perhaps even to the point of being careful about it.  But it's not a RULE rule.  Just a suggestion.  You're welcome."

Games so far this year that implicated this rule, which, of course, requires subjective decisions related to what an "obvious pick" is; I'm basing it on discussions I had with a couple of friends who love sports gambling (we'll call them J-Bug and House) during the days leading up to these weekends.  Feel free to disagree with the our consensus picks (at the time) for "obvious" games, and then go fuck yourself if it's a big deal to you.  Unless otherwise noted, home team was the "obvious" pick:

Week 1
BUF at CHI (Bill went against the rule and lost)
CLE at PIT (Bill went with the rule and won)

Week 2
ARI at NYG (ARI was the obvious pick after the Giants looked like a college team in week 1; Bill went with the rule and lost as the Giants looked like a college team again in this game)
NE at MIN (NE was the obvious pick; Bill went against the rule and won)

Week 3
TB at ATL (Bill went against the rule and won)
DEN at SEA (Bill went against the rule and won)

Verdict on this rule: the obvious games are obvious because they tend to be pretty easy to pick.  Then 5 or 6 times a season you get an upset in one of them, and tardburgers like Bill turn it into a gambling rule OMG DON'T TRUST THAT OBVIOUS GAME IT'S JUST A LITTLE TOO OBVIOUS DON'T YOU THINK???????

Rule: Always take a beat when you’re just blindly checking off games to ask yourself, “Wait, are we sure … ?”

Almost as helpful as the last rule. "When you are going to put real money that you have worked hard to earn or steal down on a game, don't just blindly 'check off' games, whatever that means, because that would be fucking stupid.  However, in the event that you find yourself blindly checking off games, go back through when you're done and then actually think about the games and re-make your picks as necessary."  Seriously, fuck this guy.

Like the Jets laying five to Oakland in Jersey this week. 

I know this was written before week 1, when we knew a lot less about all the teams in the league, but the Raiders have been terrible for a decade, lost 6 straight to finish out 2013, and were starting a rookie QB who played in a non-power conference in college.  I don't care how bad Geno Smith is, the Jets were the smart pick here, even though they did not cover.  The fact that Bill was able to talk himself into taking the Raiders, who needed all 6 of the points they were getting in order to cover, is a blind squirrel finding a nut.

When your brain is turned off, you lay the points, right? 

No, when your brain is turned off, you go to sleep, or at least stop gambling.

Who the hell would take Derek Carr and the Raiders on the road? 

Most people would agree (although Carr would then go on to cover against New England in Foxboro... maybe I'm the idiot).

But turn your brain on for a second … should that crappy Jets team be favored by five against ANYONE? 

Well, they were a fuckload better than the Raiders in 2013, and didn't have any really significant offseason losses.  They were beaten by a TEXTBOOK FAWKIN' BACKDO-AH COVAH in this game, leading by 12 inside the 2 minute warning when Carr hit James Jones for a 30 yard TD with the Raiders out of timeouts.  So yeah, I think the Jets should have been favored by 5.  (In Bill's defense, the Jets have looked horrible since and are now 1-3 overall and 1-3 against the spread.  But the Raiders are probably significantly worse.  NFL ACTION ACTION ACTION.)

Does home-field advantage matter when you’re getting booed because you’re down 17-0 in the second quarter and it looks like Tom Cruise could start at cornerback for you? Why are the Jets such an easy pick there?

I don't think they were THAT easy; me and J-Hench and Jimmy Kimmel didn't think this was an "obvious" game.  Anyways, I can't even analyze this rule because it's not a rule at all.  "Always wear your seatbelt" is a rule.  "When you're driving down the freeway at 90 mph and then you realize you're hallucinating and can't see straight, stop immediately" is just common sense.  This is more like the latter of those.

Rule: Make a plan for double-digit spreads and stick with it.

This might be the best one on the whole list.

Picking double-digit spreads is like having a 12 against a two in blackjack — there’s no right answer, but you’re better off doing the same thing every time. 

HAHAHAHA NO IT'S NOT, YOU FUCKING DOLT!  Here's how Bill came up with this: he likes gambling on football.  He thinks he's good at it.  He likes blackjack.  He thinks he's good at it.  THEY MUST HAVE SIMILARITIES!  HOW COULD THEY NOT???  WHO SAYS NO??????  I don't have time to aggregate all the data over a long period of time, but I'd be willing to bet a shiny nickel that over the long run, double digit favorites cover at very close to 50%.  That means that if "there's no right answer" and you decide to always bet for or against them, SURPRISE, you will lose money due to the house vig.  This is like saying "Picking home teams is like 12 against 2 in blackjack--just do the same thing every time" because home teams in the long run cover about 50% of the time.  If you are the kind of person who does things like this, you will lose money, because you are stupid.  Don't be stupid.

In 2014, I plan on grabbing the points unless it’s a breathtaking scenario along the lines of “The Seahawks just lost last week, they’re pissed off, and now Carson Palmer is coming to Seattle and he’s starting even though he might have a torn rotator cuff.”

I like how much he shits all over Arizona and Palmer in this article.  Watch them go 11-5 and make the conference championship game.  OTHER THAN THE SEAHAWKS NAME ONE NFC TEAM BETTER THAN THE CARDINALS.  YOU CAN'T.  

Verdict on this rule: So far this season there have only been 5 double digit spreads; favorites are 2-3 against them (PHI and SD covered against JAX; DEN, NO and NE failed to cover against KC, MIN and OAK).  Bill didn't get to pick the SD/JAX game because it happened last weekend.  In the other 4, he went 2-2 even though the underdogs went 3-1 against the spread.  Why?  Because he took all the underdogs except the Pats against the Raiders, of course.  I mean, Christ, what do you expect out of the guy?  You want him to control his impulses?  He's got the analytical skills of a 14 year old.  Of course he went against his rule once the FOOTBALL RED SOX were involved.  BUT I MEAN LOOK AT THIS PATRIOTS TEAM; SHOULD THEY BE LAYING 14 POINTS TO ANYONE????????  Jesus, I'm not sure they should be laying 4 points to anyone.

Rule: Beware of obvious choices and not-totally-reliable candidates for two-team and three-team teasers.

You should approach every tease with this mind-set: I would feel totally comfortable betting my life on this if it wouldn’t be so bizarre to bet your life on a two-team football tease. I already broke this rule in Week 1 when I teased Seattle -6 (already covered) with Chicago -7.5 at home against Buffalo (looks sooooooooo easy on paper and I did it anyway). When Jay Cutler limps out of the game in the second quarter, blame me. It’s my fault.

Holy Jumping Jesus on a Trampoline, we don't even need to go over this one.  It's just a restatement of that one "rule" we discussed 2 minutes ago that basically amounts to "try to make smart bets," but applied to parlays.  And then, naturally, he was right about the fact that he made a dumb bet in the CHI/BUF game, because even when he's right, he's wrong.  It must be excruciating to be Bill Simmons.  Actually, scratch that--it WOULD be excruciating to be Bill Simmons IF you had even a shred of self awareness.

Rule: When in doubt, always grab an underdog at home.

I love the wishy-washing of "when in doubt."  You know, if you've been blindly throwing money at your bookie or at the sports book dealer without any idea of who you are or where you are, that's a good time to start doubting yourself and asking "Wait... are you sure?"  At that point, if you are not sure, take home underdogs, BUT ONLY IF IT'S NOT A SUPER OBVIOUS PICK.

During a typical gambling season, home dogs will cover somewhere around 58-60 percent of the time. But during the Great Gambling Train Wreck of 2013? Home dogs started out hot as always (17-11 over the first five weeks), then free-fell into a fiery hell (25-34-2 over the next 12 weeks). Again, we have a solid amount of evidence that 2014 might be the Year of the Dog. 

Good use of "evidence."  To quote Simpsons superlawyer Lionel Hutz, "Well, Your Honor, we have hearsay and conjecture.  Those are KINDS of evidence."  To Bill, seeing that sometimes gambling trends repeat themselves, but sometimes they don't, is a kind of evidence.  WHO SAYS NO.

I don’t need to spell this out for you.

Yeah you IDIOTS.  Just follow Bill's rules already.  You losers.

Games so far this year that implicated this rule:

Week 1
NO at ATL (Bill went against the home dog and lost)
NE at MIA (Bill went against the home dog and lost)
SF at DAL (Bill went against the home dog and won)

Week 2
SEA at SD (Bill went with the home dog and won)
HOU at OAK (Bill went with the home dog and lost)
NE at MIN (Bill went against the home dog and won)
ARI at NYG (Bill went with the home dog and lost)
NO at CLE (Bill went with the home dog and won)

Week 3
IND at JAX (Bill went with the home dog and lost)
HOU at NYG (Bill went against the home dog and lost)
DAL at STL (Bill went with the home dog and lost)
SF at ARI (Bill went with the home dog and won)

Week 4
GB at CHI (home dog did not cover)
DET at NYJ (home dog did not cover)
ATL at MIN (home dog covered and won outright)
NO at DAL (home dog covered and won outright)
NE at KC (home dog covered and won outright)

Let's total it up.  Overall, home dogs are 9-8 against the spread.  Better than nothin'.  (In fact all 9 won outright, so you could have picked up some decent coin by playing all home dog money lines so far this year.)  Bill didn't pick the week 4 games, of course.  In the games he did pick, the home dogs went 6-6.  However, he only picked the home dog 7 out of those 12 games, and went 3-4.  And because he's a dillweed, he also went 2-3 when he went with the road favorite, making him 5-7 overall in home dog games.  I propose a new rule: if the road team is favored, just don't bet at all (if your name is Bill Simmons).

Verdict on this rule: Might be worthwhile if you stick with it.  And I guess play the home dog money lines rather than taking the points?  I don't know.  Don't listen to me.  I have no fucking clue what I'm doing.

Rule: Make a list of teams you irrationally like and dislike before the season starts, then stick to your guns those first five weeks.

HAHAHAHA.  Also a good rule, because it gives him a chance to talk about how smart he has been for years now.  (Also, "irrationally like" is a SECRETLY UNDERRATED Simmonsism.)

I broke that strategy down in 2004’s award-winning “Simbotics” seminar— 

A link to one of his columns from back then was here, but I removed it, because it was self-indulgent and dreadful (as his columns tend to be).  

for instance, I love San Diego as 2014’s surprise 12-win contender, 

The Chargers look pretty good.  They're 3-1 overall and 4-0 against the spread.  Naturally, since Bill is dumb, he did not pick them to cover in Buffalo during week 3, so he only went 2-1 in their games.

Tampa Bay as 2014’s “Nobody Believes In Us” sleeper, 

Tampa Bay looks pretty awful, although they did beat the mediocre Steelers in Pittsburgh, so that's fun.  They are now 1-3 overall and 1-3 against the spread.  Here's what Bill had to say about their week 1 matchup with Carolina:

BUCS (-3) over Panthers
My dream Week 1 matchup: my favorite still-undervalued team playing at home against 2014’s no. 1 regression candidate. Actually, this game is like a hot blackjack table. Just shut up. Don’t celebrate, don’t brag, don’t count your chips, don’t taunt the pit boss, don’t say anything.

MORE BLACKJACK ANALOGIES PLEASE!  Panthers 20, Bucs 14.  And the Panthers now look absolutely atrocious.  To Bill's credit, he did stick to his guns and pick the Bucs to beat the Rams in week 2 (oops).  Also to his credit, he then wised up and took the Falcons to beat them in week 3.  What happened to sticking to your guns?  Hey, like Jack Handy says, I'd rather be lucky than stupid.

Baltimore as 2014’s comeback team, 

The Ravens are 3-1, although 3 of those games have been at home and the only good team they played (Cincy) beat them at home.  Still, they are also 3-1 against the spread.  Bill went 3-0 in their games, picking against them in the Cincy game.

Cincy as 2014’s Slightly Undervalued Contender, 

Cincy looks really, really good.  They are 3-0, and 3-0 against the spread.  Of course, Bill took the Falcons to cover against them in Cincy in week 2, saying he was grabbing the 5 points "only because of the overwhelming Garbage Time Touchdown Potential."  Atlanta did score a garbage time touchdown; unfortunately they were down 21 at the time.  STICK TO YOUR GUNS FOR FIVE WEEKS BILL YOU SILLY MAN.

and Minnesota as 2014’s super-frisky non-playoff team. 

The Vikings are a tough team to judge, since they've lost Peterson but gained a QB who is way way better than Matt Cassel in the last couple of weeks.  They are now 2-2 overall and against the spread.  They're not winning that division, but I suppose they do qualify as "frisky," so good for Bill.  

I’m also waaaaaaaaay down on Carolina 

Carolina looks awful.

and Kansas City; 

The Chiefs are now 2-2 overall but 3-1 against the spread; they just finished shoving the Patriots' heads up their own asses on national TV.  Man, why did Bill have to get suspended last week?  I really wish I could go read his pick for that game right now, just to make me smile.  YOU THINK BILLY B IS GOING TO LET ANDY REID WIN THIS GAME?  STAWP.  JUST STAWP.

I think the Falcons, Cardinals and Jets are worse than people think; 

And yet you took the Falcons against the Bengals in Cincy.  Also, we went over this, but the Cardinals are good.

I’m petrified of the QB situations in Buffalo, Houston and Washington; 

If you have a pulse and a passing interest in the NFL, you knew those QB situations were unstable back in June.

and I’m worried that San Francisco might have a Year From Hell Season. 

I'll give him a speck of credit here, they have looked ready to melt down a couple of times.

Throughout September, I am sticking to my guns — that’s how I feel, so that’s how I am picking games with those teams.

No, you're not.  You dummy.

Next: DEFINITIVE PROOF that CANNOT BE DENIED that this REALLY REALLY ACTUALLY is the YEAR OF THE DOG. (Note: dogs went 4-7-1 last week, bringing them to 31-27 on the year.  It is not the year of the dog.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA of course.

Of course, ESPN suspended Simmons for saying mean hurtful things about Roger "Huge Piece of Shit" Goodell on Simmon's podcast.  Of course.  Nice try, ESPN/God/higher powers that are in charge of the universe.  Trying to get me to take Bill's side?  Good effort.  I instead choose to not address the situation, other than in this post.  Fuck ESPN.  Fuck Roger Goodell.  But still, also fuck Bill Simmons.

I hate everything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bill's Guide to Gambling (alternate title: How to Lose Money By Being Stupid), Part 1


[DISCLAIMER: I'm about to write a lot about NFL gambling, and criticize Bill heavily for his gambling analysis and picks.  I enjoy gambling on the NFL.  I am also terrible at it, and freely admit this.  I would never pretend otherwise.  I would never tell anyone, whether in person or in writing, that I had some kind of a system or set of rules that was going to help me win this season or ever.  I will always happily talk about what I think are good bets to make for the coming weekend's games.  I will always admit as part of that discussion that my advice is probably terrible and should not be followed by anyone.  Now that I have that out of the way, let's begin.]

Bill makes no secret about how much he loves gambling, and he probably writes about gambling on the NFL more than anything else these days.  (A close 2nd: speculation as to how we will look back in ten years on certain regular season NBA games that were kind of exciting.)  However, despite his passion for it, Bill is objectively goddamn treefuckingly awful at picking NFL games.  That's where the rest of us get to have some fun.  


Since 2010, and through 3 weeks of the 2014 season, Bill is 516-529 picking against the spread.  (He has a number of pushes as well, of course, which I'm not going to list because fuck you I don't want to.  This is why the season totals below add up to fewer than the 256 regular season games that make up an NFL season.)  That means that if you had followed his picks and put down $10 on every single game, and the payout was -110, as it almost always is for an NFL ATS pick, you would have lost just under $600 over that period of time.  The numbers break down like this:

2010: 131-119.  Bill's picks broke almost exactly dead even for the season; after factoring in the house edge (explained below if you don't know about it), betting $10 a game would have left you up $0.91 at season's end.
2011: 120-127.  Betting $10 a game would have left you down $179.
2012: 132-120.  Betting $10 a game would have left you exactly spot on dead even.
2013: 108-140, yes that's right, he was 108-140.  Betting $10 a game would have left you down $418.
2014: So far, he's 25-23.  Betting $10 a game would have left you down $2.72 so far.

(For those of you who don't have experience losing money on sports gambling like I do, -110 means you have to bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, etc.  In other words if you bet wins, you don't double your money--you win about 90% of the amount of the bet, on top of getting your original bet back.  This is how the house makes money on sports gambling--they set/adjust lines to get an even amount of money on each side of the spread, and the winning side gets less than double their money back, leaving the casino with a small profit.  Anyone who tells you sports books try to operate in any other fashion is a fucking moron.)  

Now, for the average person, there is no shame in this.  It's hard to pick games consistently.  While theoretically a monkey flipping a coin should pick 50% of game correctly over a large enough sample size of games, and Bill has only picked 49.4% of them correctly since 2010, that's not a big deal.  Then you factor in the -110 house edge, and it gets extremely hard to beat the house consistently.  The vast vast majority of gamblers don't beat the house in the long term, which is why casinos and bookies exist.  If your friend is down $600 on football bets in the last few seasons, you should not automatically give that friend a bunch of shit about it unless they hold themselves out as some wunderkind gambling expert.  

And that's the problem with Bill: he absolutely holds himself out, in a very public forum, as a wunderkind gambling expert.  He very, very, VERY clearly is not.  Even in his best years, he's picking 52.5ish% of games correctly, and breaking even on money.  This does not stop him from 1) talking about NFL gambling all the time, including running his picks column every week every year, 2) but more obnoxiously, regularly publishing "manifestos" and other articles that claim to have cracked some kind of secret code such that following the advice therein should lead to fabulous riches, and most obnoxiously, 3) throwing arrogant little quips to the effect of "THIS LINE IS THREE POINTS TOO HIGH, THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY VEGAS" into his columns left and right.  It would be one thing if he was a self-professed gambling enthusiast who loves picking NFL games, but had the self-awareness to acknowledge that he wasn't very good at it.  But as anyone who has read him since about 2002 knows, "Bill Simmons" and "self-awareness" are two things that do not exist together.  

So, enough blabbing and introducing.  Let's get to the meat.  What follows is Bill's latest example of #2 in the list in the previous paragraph; here we have the official, top secret, no holds barred Bill Simmons 2014 NFL Gambling Guide.  If the breakdown of his success rate above wasn't enough to make you want to find him and try to become his personal bookie, this article should push you over the edge.

Football, football, football, football!

FOOTBALL!!!!!!!!

Superb exposition from America's most popular "sports" "writer."

If you missed my Thursday column about Roger Goodell’s NFL That Never Sleeps (featuring my winning Seahawks minus-6 pick!), here’s the link.

Sure won't be clicking on that.  Thanks for the offer though!  Also, most people with brains have known for years that Roger Goodell is a complete shithead with no redeeming qualities.  In that "NFL That Never Sleeps" column (which was published on September 5, just a few days before the Ray Rice inside the elevator video dropped), Bill does jump on Goodell for several things, including his fumbling of the Rice suspension proceedings.  But then Bill decides that ol' Rog does have several things going for him.  First among those:

First, his multi-scene cameo in Draft Day was fantastic. I loved his chemistry with Frank Langella.

DIE.  

If you want to send along a mailbag question for my Friday NFL Picks column this season (and I’m going to need good ones as always), here’s the link.

Don't bother--he's just going to make them up and assign them to fictitious fans (most of them women) anyways.

If you want to listen to my Guess the Lines podcasts with Cousin Sal every Monday, here’s the link.

I would rather listen to 45 minutes of a squeaky ceiling fan.

If you want to make fun of my five weekly LVH Supercontest Picks on my Facebook page, here’s the link.

A shred of self awareness!  We will touch on this later, because he does make a couple other cracks at his own expense.  Don't worry (and I know you weren't), it's not going to ruin the line of thought behind this blog post.

If you want to pick games against me, Ian Ziering, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, Mark McGrath and other well-known celebs in the 2014 Celebrity Picks Challenge Presented by Fireball Whisky, here’s the link.

"Ian Ziering" "Mark McGrath" "well-known celebs"

OK.

Here’s the good news: My Friday picks column is now old enough to vote for president, fight for our country and maybe even be someone’s freshman roommate in college. That’s right … it’s Year 18. And you think so little of me at this point that you clicked on the link in the previous paragraph. 

HE'S CALLING YOU OUT, READERS.  PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS, AND DO YOUR BEST TO TAKE ON THIS GUY WHO IS NOT AS GOOD AT PICKING GAMES AGAINST THE SPREAD AS PAUL THE OCTOPUS WOULD HAVE BEEN (R.I.P, Paul the Octopus).

Now you have that detestable “Rude” song running through your head for the rest of the day. 

Now he's just going out of his way to be annoying to his readers.  But I certainly do agree with him.  That song is ass herpes in audio form.

And you deserve it. I thought we had something. I hope you feel bad.

I feel bad that I'm still blogging about how dumb you are, seven years into this blog's existence.  Mariotti got fired (more than once).  Rick Reilly stepped down/was quietly fired.  Joe Morgan got fired.  Why are you still there?

Anyway, way back in September of 1997, I was living in Boston and writing for my self-created “Boston’s Sports Guy” website for millions and millions of readers. Fine, it was hundreds and hundreds. 

#humblebrag

But that was the year I unleashed my first batch of mostly mediocre picks on an unsuspecting America. It’s been trial and error ever since. Mostly error. 

Again, some humility/self awareness.  Let's see how quickly he can reverse course and set flame to any goodwill those last few sentences might have generated with unassuming readers who think Bill is anything but a self-absorbed know-it-all asshole.

I juggled a handful of handicapping laws before eventually settling for the Gambling Manifesto That’s In My Head.

First of all, before we get to the substance of this, don't use the word "manifesto."  It generally has a negative/terroristic connotation, and even when it doesn't, if you suck at the thing about which you're writing some kind of master plan, it's super embarrassing.

Why abandon a tried-and-true manifesto? 

Because it never worked, was never going to work, and had no utility whatsoever?

I learned the hard way that football changes too much from year to year to survive too many enduring rules. 

Bill, for 17 years: "I have it all figured out!  The magic formula that leads to NFL gambling success!  THIS season it's going to be different!"
Bill, year 18: "I have come to the conclusion that football changes from year to year.  Therefore, I have a whole NEW magic formula that will lead to NFL gambling success!  THIS season, it's going to be different!"

For instance, the gambling gods conspired in 2013 to ruin everyone who fancied himself a handicapping expert. 

No, they didn't.  There are no gambling gods.  You just had a shitty season.  Like you did in 2011.  And probably many, many other seasons since 1997.

Every sharp and every degenerate will remember the devastating Great Gambling Train Wreck of 2013 years and years from now, 

HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THIS MOMENT IN THE FUTURE WHEN WE ARE WONDERING WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO CONTEMPLATE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO LOOK BACK ON A PARTICULAR MOMENT MAN I AM SO DEEP.

the same way we’ll remember earthquakes, political scandals and unauthorized Saved by the Bell movies. 

Dude, you're like 45.  You were too old for Saved by the Bell during its original run.  You don't get to complain about its direction since.

My B.S. Report buddy and future Gamblers Anonymous roommate, Cousin Sal, 

I hate Cousin Sal.  I have never once listened to a B.S. Report or Pick the Lines podcast and I still hate him with all my heart.  Cousin Sal sucks.

recently sent me an invaluable link from The Sporting News. The three most relevant quotes from that piece, along with my notes in parentheses.

I'm leaving that link in, because even if it just says "pick the team that seems to you like it probably will do better," it is more helpful to prospective NFL gamblers than anything Bill has to say.

“In 2013, NFL favorites covered the spread at a 52.2 percent clip, the highest rate since 2005 and the third highest in the last 25 years … since 1990, NFL favorites covered an average of just 48.7 percent of games.”

Right, so, last year was a good year for favorites.  Better than any year since... not that long ago.  In other words, it wasn't some kind of unprecedented catastrophe for underdogs.  Weren't we just hearing about how GAMBLERS WILL TALK ABOUT THE GREAT UNDERDOG SLAUGHTER OF 2013 WHILE GAMBLING ON MOON FOOTBALL FROM THEIR MOON BASES?  Why don't we hear anything about the GREAT UNDERDOG SLAUGHTER OF 2005 today?  Most likely this is became Bill Simmons is a fucking dunderhead.

Anyways, brace yourself for what comes next.  This is one for the record books, folks.  It doesn't get much better than this.

(That’s bad. That’s very, very, very bad. Every “smart” gambler is trained to grab the points and go against the public as much as we possibly can. That’s how we butter our bread. Swing our luck by 3.5 percentage points and we’re in major trouble ranging from “Crap, I have to reload my off-shore betting account for the third time this month?” to “If I don’t meet some guy named Big Al in the parking lot behind Target on Main Street by 7:30 on Wednesday night, I’m gonna be walking with a limp.”)

DIE
DIE
DIE

Not sure which is worse--his conflation of "going against the public" with taking underdogs, or his use of "we" after referring to "smart gamblers," because hey, what says "smart" like beating the house once (by a minuscule amount) once every five seasons?  And yes, I understand that there's a kernel of truth to the taking the points/going against the house part, as nobodies who gamble once a year when they happen to be in Vegas for a business conference are probably slightly more likely to bet good/favored teams; but first of all the house will adjust the line accordingly, second of all the amount of action coming from people with such an unsophisticated view of a game is going to be pretty low unless it's a playoff game, a Thanksgiving game, etc., and third of all, seriously, read that paragraph again and see if you can talk yourself into thinking Bill even understands that much.  I sure can't.

“(For) seasons in which NFL favorites covered more than 51.5 percent (since 1990) … the average for those five seasons was 53.3 percent. In years following those seasons (highlighted in green), favorites covered, on average, just 47 percent of games. That’s a 6.3 percent swing (from 53.3 percent to 47 percent).”

(Wait, this is good! Is that why The Sporting News made the real headline for this column “The Year of the Dog”? I think it is!)

Any evidence that trend is somehow a result of causation (maybe some quote from a guy who runs a book about how the casinos then to overcorrect after a particularly favorite heavy year, or something)?  Because if there isn't any such evidence, then basically, the "swing back" phenomenon to heavy underdog wins the year after heavy favorite wins is no more reliable than saying "Hey look!  After this roulette wheel hits three black numbers in a row, a red number usually comes next!  TIME TO TAKE OUT A SECOND MORTGAGE!"  I mean, I could totally see it being causal, rather than random chance.  But it's good to see Bill isn't thinking that far.  HE'S JUST LOOKING FOR TRENDS, GANG.  GOTTA FOLLOW THE TRENDS.  THAT'S HOW "SMART" GAMBLERS BUTTER THEIR BREAD.

“In 2006, the year after the best NFL season for favorites in the last 25 years (57.8 percent of favorites covered in 2005), 

I STILL REMEMBER THOSE DAYS.  THOSE WERE DARK DAYS FOR J-HENCH AND I.  WE LOST EVERYTHING BETTING ON DOGS THAT FALL.  EVERYTHING.  CARS, WATCHES, KIDS.  IT WAS A BLOODBATH.

dogs ruled, with favorites covering just 44.6 percent. After the second best season for favorites (52.9 percent in 1998), dogs again cleaned up, as favorites went just 46.5 percent ATS. The third best year for NFL favorites was last season.”

(Translation: Year of the Dog, Part Three!!!!!!!)

IT'S FREE MONEYYYYYYY!  As noted above, Bill is 25-23 so far this season.  He has picked 21 dogs and 26 favorites (1 game has been a pick 'em).  To his credit, his dog picks are 13-8!  That's good!  Dogs are 27-20 overall!  IT'S THE YEAR OF THE DOG!  (Note: this probably will not continue, and even if it does, only Bill would be stupid enough to write a column about what a good idea it is to take dogs and then only take dogs 45% of the time.)

So let’s make that one of our 2014 rules: “When in doubt, always, always, ALWAYS take the points.”

I mean, through three weeks, that's actually great advice.  Unfortunately he's been unable to follow it.

Some other rules that I plan on abiding by in 2014 …

Rule: Diligently avoid taking shaky QBs on the road, bad coaches against good coaches, and, especially, bad coaches coaching shaky QBs against good coaches on the road.

WOWIE ZOWIE.  This is groundbreaking strategy, ladies and germs.  No gambler has ever been so bold as to theorize that when a bad QB backed up by a bad coach goes on the road to face a team with a good coach, you might want to gamble on the good team.  IT'S SO CRAZY IT MIGHT WORK.

This year’s group of shaky QBs in no particular order: EJ Manuel–Kyle Orton; Geno Smith; Johnny Football; Jake Locker Unless He Shows Us Something Early; Chad Henne; Ryan Fitzpatrick; Derek Carr–Matt Schaub; Matt Schaub A Second Time; Robert Griffin III (sorry, D.C. fans, but it’s true and you know it); Tony Romo During Any Week In Which He’s Just Had An Epidural; Matt Cassel; Shaun Hill; Carson Palmer; Just About Any Shaky Backup.

Games so far this year that implicated this rule to some extent:

Week 1
BUF at CHI (Bill went with the rule and lost)
JAX at PHI (Bill went against the rule and lost)

Week 2
JAX at WAS (Bill went against the rule and lost)
ARI at NYG (Bill went with the rule and lost)
NYJ at GB (Bill went with the rule and lost)

Week 3
HOU at NYG (Bill went with the rule and lost)
OAK at NE (Bill went with the rule and lost)

I barely need to summarize that data.  It speaks for itself.  The rule was right 2 out of 7 times.  Bill couldn't even track that, because none of these rules matter and they all contradict themselves so fuck everything.  Bill was right 0 out of 7 times.  (Note: I excluded games where the Titans went on the road because Jake Locker had a great Week 1; then again, he's been crappy since.  But I think he reached Showed Us Something Early status by clobbering the not-bad Chiefs at Arrowhead.  I also counted the OAK at NE game even though Derek Carr is mentioned both here and below, since NE is theoretically good at home.  I did not count the OAK at NYJ game because the Jets are terrible.  Bill did pick that one right, but only by going against his rule, which adds to the comedy.  Anyways, why is Carr on both the "I don't trust" and the "I do trust" lists?  Because Bill refuses to be edited, because he is a colossal prick.)

Not on that list for now: Brian Hoyer (I’m a semi-fan); 

Quasi-support.

Josh McCown (I’m a believer); 

You're an idiot.

Kirk Cousins (I’m a fan); 

You're an idiot, as we will see in coming weeks.

Teddy Bridgewater (I’m a HUGE fan); 

You're a HUGE idiot, as we will see in coming weeks.

Blake Bortles or Derek Carr Unless They’re Playing Somewhere Scary Like Seattle (I don’t mind either of them); 

Is Gillette Stadium Somewhere Scary Like Seattle?  Carr covered there.  In any case, he's on the other list too, so fuck you, Bill.

and Jimmy Garoppolo (my son’s first future football hero).

With the way Brady is playing, we just might see him make some starts before the season is over.

Anyways, verdict on this rule: it's dumb, and Bill is dumb.

Rule: Don’t go against Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Green Bay or New England at home with a spread under 8½.

Games so far this year that implicated this rule:

Week 1
GB at SEA (Bill went with the rule and won)
IND at DEN (Bill went with the rule and lost)

Week 2
(GB and DEN both played home games, but had spreads over 8.5; Bill went against the Broncos and won, and with the Packers and lost)

Week 3
DEN at SEA (Bill went with the rule and won)
(NO and NE both played home games, but had spreads over 8.5; Bill went with the Patriots and lost, and against the Saints and lost)

Well, unless you have an amazing reason on the level of “Sports Illustrated just put Aaron Rodgers on the cover holding 10 black cats while standing under a ladder and posing with his new girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.”

Verdict on this rule: not enough data yet.  Odds are it's a pretty good rule to follow, which is something a 9 year old with a vague interest in football could have told you.

Rule: Don’t go against the Pats after a loss and/or when they’re getting points.

After the Pats lost to Miami in week 1, they walloped the Vikings in week 2, covering easily.  I'm pretty sure the University of Minnesota could give the Vikings a game this year.

We have a 13-year Belichick-Brady track record at this point. In the situation I just described, they are 97,567-2 against the spread (all numbers approximate).

And then the following week, the Raiders came into Gillette and covered, and damn near forced overtime (having a game tying TD in the final minutes called back for holding, and then throwing an interception that was the receiver's fault a few plays later).  Verdict on this rule: DURRRRRRR BILLY B TOM TERRIFIC GREATRIOTS YAY!  I hope the Pats finish 2-14 and Jimmy Garopollo retires after the season is over.

More later.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Announcer guy says dumb thing


Sorry for the hiatus, buddies.  I'll get back to my once a week substantive posting soon.  Maybe even tomorrow!  Maybe!  Probably not.  Maybe Sunday night.  Anyways, I mean, how could I not?  Good news, everyone--Simmons has got this NFL gambling thing FIGURED OUT.  That shit is now LOCKED DOWN FOLKS, as he explained in a column from early in the month that's so riddled with stupidity that it might cause you to unlearn how to read as you're trying to it.

I'm extremely excited to break down that column, and in fact, it's better that I'll be doing it three-plus weeks into the NFL season.  We can look at Bill's ATS picks so far and see just how well his new system is working.  Odds are that he will be 1) not actually following his system, because there is no system, because the 17 rules contain so many internal contradictions that they only way to adhere to them would be to put money on both sides of every game, and 2) doing horribly, because he's been doing horribly at this for the past however many years.

ANYHOO, tonight, while not writing the Simmons post I was just talking about writing, I was watching some baseball.  The Royals TV guys were talking about tonight's exciting FSN Kansas City fan poll sponsored by Sprint, Ford, Pepsi, Coors, and whatever it is that fat Missourians eat.  The topic was strong outfield arms--who had the strongest one during the last fifty years?  There were four options: Jesse Barfield, Vlad Guerrero, Roberto Clemente and Raul Mondesi.  It's a goddamn crime that Larry Walker wasn't an option, but anyways, Vladdy Daddy actually beat out Bobby C.  I have no idea what the right answer is (it's Larry Walker), but this caused the announcers to talk about how awesome all of the four guys were.  Then one of them says:

Guerrero threw the ball like he swung the bat.  Wild.  Big cuts.  On the fly.  Never wanted to hit a cutoff man.

With a bat?  Jesus, I hope not.  That will get you suspended for sure.

Look, I get that this is nitpicky, but this is also a segment that the talky talk TV guys (whose only job is to talky talk for like 3 hours a day, 162 days a year) basically had time to rehearse.  It's not like the guy flubbed his analysis during the middle of unpredictable and exciting game action, like, I don't know, this guy.  There was a pitching change going on.  The poll results were displayed.  The options had probably been displayed a couple innings earlier, encouraging dumb fans who want SMS spam to TEXT IN WITH THEIR VOTES!  They had a few seconds to talk about how Guerrero won, but the other guys were great too.  And then this dude wanders off down a tangent and ends up sounding like a jackass.

OK, I'm nitpicking.  I felt bad because I hadn't posted in a while.  I'll start that Simmons bullshit tomorrow or this weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Baseball Tidbits Because Why Not

Apparently, even though the NFL has started, baseball is still being played. That provided FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal with some dumb things to say. Here are two good (bad) clips:

Regarding Braves' GM Frank Wren's contract-awarding decisions:

The [B.J.] Upton deal was baffling — rival executives and even players were critical of it from the start, saying that Upton had accomplished little to warrant such an investment. Uggla, though, was on a Hall of Fame track when the Braves acquired him from the Marlins. Few anticipated that he would fall so hard, so quickly.

*&@%^* the heck? Did anyone actually think Dan Uggla was on a HOF track? I guess the larger point that KR is trying to make here - that Uggla's decline came more precipitously than many would have expected, is somewhat relevant. But if I were KR, I might note that Uggla's last season with the Marlins was unusually good compared to the four seasons before it - easily viewed as an outlier. That might be a fair claim to make if you're critiquing the Braves' decision to sign him. But Dan Uggla, Hall of Famer? You gotta be kidding me.

Regarding Drew Smyly's success with Tampa Bay after being traded from the Rays:

Smyly, 25, clearly is benefiting from the Rays’ advanced approached to analytics. Upon joining the team, club officials informed him that they had detected some of his lesser-known strengths by studying the numbers.

Good old Tampa Bay and their nifty computers! They're good at computing things.

The Rays told Smyly to elevate his fastball more — sort of a counter-intuitive move for a pitcher — and they also emphasized that while he was successful getting to two strikes against right-handed hitters, he needed to find better ways to finish those hitters off.

The first point is useful advice and kudos for the analytics, but the second point seems useless. Analytics guy: "Hey Drew, when you've got two strikes against righties, throw better pitches".
Drew: "What was wrong with the pitches I was throwing? Any idea what kinds of pitches were successful or unsuccesful here?"
Analytics guy: "You gotta find better ways!"
Quality reporting here, Ken.

Obviously, the biggest key for Smyly is executing pitches, but he said the Rays’ suggestions made a big difference in his approach. Makes you wonder why the Tigers didn’t pick up on the same things

Hard-hitting analysis from Ken Rosenthal, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe the Rays think the biggest key for Smyly is using his fastball differently or changing his two-strike approach, but Ken Rosenthal knows that the biggest key for Smyly is executing pitches. Tune in next week, where Ken Rosenthal explains that the biggest key for David Price is getting outs.

I'm surprised he didn't go all Joe Morgan and say that the biggest key for Smyly is concistency.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FMTMQR: NFL returns // I'm sick of it already // Fuck Gregg Easterbrook


It's time for the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE OF FOOTBALL TEAMS to resume play.  Thus, I will resume torturing myself by trying to get through Easterbrook's columns without descending into a fitful rage of all caps internet yelling.  This column is particularly fun (read: goddamn infuriating) because of his continued misunderstanding as to whether people want to read haikus when they're looking for sports analysis.  He thinks they do, but little does he know, haikus are enjoyed only by serious poetry academics, 4th graders learning poetry and cleft-assholed writers.

America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions! 

I hate this article already!

This is the 15th year, the crystal anniversary -- Bristol, I'd like a dilithium crystal, please. 

Would a swift kick in the cunt work instead?

Below find a haiku, with predicted record, for each of the NFL's 32 teams. Allowing you casually to say to friends and romantic interests, "Hey, I was reading poetry today."

And if they sincerely respond with "That's very interesting," then fuck you and fuck them.

First, one of those serious topics that comes before fun. 

WHY ARE THE JEWS MAKING SO MANY VIOLENT MOVIES?  It's a new season, so I get to break that reference out again.  And hell, I might break it out in every TMQR.  Who's going to stop me?

There's progress at the intersection of sports and society -- especially, of football and society. In just the past five years, a bleak picture has improved. 

Uh... barely?  Negligibly?

So -- is victory won?

No?

• Emphasis on reducing deliberate helmet-to-helmet contact at all levels of football -- pro, college, high school and youth.

The NFL insists that rule changes aimed in this direction have nothing to do with concussion prevention, because football does not cause concussions, and even if it did, it would be the fault of the players who agreed to play the sport, not of the NFL or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

• Emphasis at all levels on teaching heads-up tackling form, something many coaches didn't even know about not long ago.

Yeah fucking right.  Coaches used to tell kids that leading with the head was perfectly acceptable--in fact, it was preferred, because it's easier to not see where you're going when you're trying to spear a guy in the sternum!

• Reduced contact time in practice -- more concussions happen in practice than in games -- in the NFL and NCAA. The defending champion Seahawks were just zinged by the league for not adhering to the less-contact rule.

I'm real sure these rules will be taken very seriously, especially at the NCAA level, where the average coach falls somewhere between "Ted Bundy" and "Timothy McVeigh" on the sociopath scale.

• The Ed O'Bannon and Power Five decisions, which may lead either to less inequity in the financial situations of big-college athletes or to the collapse of the NCAA. Either would be preferable to the current arrangement.

I'm happy about the O'Bannon decision (haven't read Power Five yet), but I am pretty sure that for fans of the sport of football, the collapse of the NCAA is not preferable to the current system, no matter how much said system eats butthole.

• ESPN put its weight and brand behind adding graduation rates to the ranking of college teams.

The latest sensation that's sweeping the nation!  ESPN Grade (that's really what it's called), the sports world's newest ranking system that is definitely going to change the way fans look at top 25 football programs!

Most important because of the large numbers involved at the prep level -- never forget most serious football is played in high school, and it's played by people who, legally, are children -- are two huge reforms:

I'll bet you thought most football was played by 57 year olds, but you're wrong.  Only Gregggggg has the intellectual capacity to understand that a time-consuming and athletically demanding sport is mostly played by the section of society with the most free time and spare energy.

• State laws requiring youth and high school coaches to get training in diagnosing and managing concussions have gone from unknown to almost universal. Rules regarding summer two-a-days heat acclimation have gone from rare to common. In 2011, on the same August day two prep football players died in Georgia of heat stroke. Then, Georgia had no meaningful rules about heat and hydration. Now, Georgia follows the National Athletic Trainers' Association guidelines. Many states do, and soon most or all will.

I don't want to shit on anyone's safety parade, but let's call a spade a spade: these rules change due to liability worries on the part of school districts and schools, not because they're good ideas from a safety perspective.  High school football is slowly but surely becoming big business, especially in states like Georgia, and you can be sure that the only thing that will stop schools from DOIN' FOOTBAWL PRACTICE THE WAY MY PAPPY DID AND THE WAY HIS PAPPY DID BEFORE HIM is a lawsuit.  Just sayin'.

• States are beginning to restrict high school football contact time. California, the most populous state, just enacted a law that soon will limit full contact in practice to three hours a week during the summer and season and prohibit offseason contact. Texas, ground zero of prep football culture, already limits full contact to 90 minutes a week.

OK, fine, I'll can the cynicism regarding serious topics and get back to the dumb stuff.  Right after this.

These are movements in the right direction. 

True.

Your columnist has been pounding the table about athletic reform for years, and many times expressed cynicism regarding whether there would ever be positive change.  Now there has been. 

PRAISE BE UNTO YOU, KING EASTERBROOK.  IT IS YOU WHO HAVE FOISTED THIS CHANGE UPON THE FOOTBALL WORLD.

Now -- America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions.
AFC East

Brady's last hurrah?
Modeling career beckons.
The New England Pats.
Forecast finish: 11-5

A smoking wreckage
of Jeff Ireland era.
Miami Dolphins.
Forecast finish: 6-10

"I am the greatest!"
Ali boast seems mild to Jets.
The Jersey/B Jets.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Foolish Club loses
Ralph Wilson, last of his time.
The Buffalo Bills.
Forecast finish: 5-11

Is there any good reason to pay this man to write this garbage?  Any reason at all?  Do his pageviews justify whatever ESPN pays him?  Is he bringing a core demographic to their site that otherwise wouldn't click there?  This guy is a fucking intellectual pissant.  I hope he regularly shits his pants when he's nowhere near a bathroom.  What a fucking waste of letters this is.

Department Of Redundancy Department: Ferrari's new $1.6 million, 950-horsepower supercar is named LaFerrari. Calling it "the LaFerrari" would become "the The Ferrari." Oprah has an endorsement deal for chai tea. Perhaps the tea should be branded Oprah Winfrey's Oprah Chai Tea Powered by Oprah Winfrey. "Chai" in Eurasian languages simply means tea. So "chai tea" is "tea with tea."

And what's the deal with airplane food?

Public Subsidies For Private Profit: New York state taxpayers just invested $90 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium, mainly to increase Bills team revenue by making the concession areas more appealing. Reader Jim Medwid of Alden, New York, attended a recent Bills preseason game and reports: "The concourses are now wider, but all drinking fountains have been removed from the stadium, which prohibits bringing in any kind of bottle, even clear-sided water bottles." So taxpayers paid $90 million for renovations that force Bills ticket holders to buy $5 water bottles from the concession stands, and guess who keeps the profit.

Frank Stallone!  No, but seriously, fuck NFL owners in their fucking eye sockets.  Sometimes I think they pay Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones to be huge assholes in very public ways, so the rest of them can also be huge assholes without attracting the negative attention they deserve.

NFC East

Warp speed does not help
if the shields (defense) no good.
The Philly Eagles.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Volunteers from the
audience playing OL.
Jersey/A Giants.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Start fast, then brace for
annual December swoon.
The Dallas Cowboys
Forecast finish: 8-8

NEVER says Dan of
name change. CERTAIN say we all.
Washington R*dsk*s.
Forecast finish: 5-11


Normally I would remove this kind of garbage from my posts, but I'm leaving all 32 of these in.  Bask in their worthlessness.  Revel in their uncleverness.  For fucking Christ's sake, he shoehorns the team name into the last five syllable line for each of them, meaning he's only actually writing two thirds of a haiku for each team.  I hate him and I hate that I'm even bothering to analyze this crap.

New York Times Corrections On Fast Forward: During the past six months, the Paper of Record, according to its corrections page:

[List of like 25 things the NYT corrected that are kind of weird and in some cases probably didn't warrant a correction, which is the kind of thing that is interesting to people who enjoy the smell of their own farts.  But I left this one:]

• Corrected a correction;

HAHAHAHA OH WOW.  YOU TRULY ARE THE CAT'S MEOW, NYT CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT.  PAPER OF RECORD?  MORE LIKE PAPER OF REPEATED MISTAKES!

AFC North

Took Lombardi, then
missed playoffs. Win some, lose some.
Bal'amer Ravens.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Oh-for-the-playoffs:
Marvin Lewis can't shake curse.
The Cincy Bengals.
Forecast finish: 8-8

Graying defense, no
run game. Still -- watch out for them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Forecast finish: 8-8

Johnny, LBJ,
GOP: Cleveland does rock.
The Browns (2.0).
Forecast finish: 7-9


The Steelers one is just fucking terrible.  The Browns one is somehow worse.  I'd rather watch six hours of CBS's pregame show than think about these.

Another NFL Abuse Of Taxpayers Continues: The FCC has begun its review of the proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger. Your columnist thinks this creates an opportunity for either the FCC or the Justice Department to end the arrangement in which only subscribers of DirecTV can purchase NFL Sunday Ticket.

I'm with him on this, and his points are pretty fair and reasonable, but I had to leave this in:

DirecTV is a great service if you can get it, but millions cannot -- clear line of sight to the sky above Texas is required. Trees? Live in an urban apartment building? Fuhgedabout DirecTV. 

Why in fuck's name are you doing an Italian mobster bit in the middle of explaining why the DirecTV/Sunday Ticket partnership is bad for consumers?

NFC North

Bears: high-scoring team
with no defense. Yes, the Bears.
The Chicago Bears.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Pack, Favre reach peace deal.
Brett: Give pointers to Putin.
The Green Bay Packers.
Forecast finish: 9-7

AAU football:
Superstars but poor results.
The Detroit Lions.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Breathe sigh of relief:
Broncs now more S. Bowl losses.
Minnesota Vikes.
Forecast finish: 4-12


I am slowly developing Stockholm Syndrome.  I kind of like the Bears one.  I'll admit it.  I kind of like that.  They had a bad offense and a good defense for so long!  Now it's reversed!  The world is a funny place.  Here, someone hand me that bottle of pills so I can knock myself unconscious.

Bad Isn't Good Enough; The 76ers Hope To Be Horrible: Two weeks ago, TMQ declared the Philadelphia 76ers have become "Zen masters" of the NBA art of getting rid of players in order to lose deliberately. I noted that in the past 12 months they'd traded away their three best performers, mostly for benchwarmers with expiring contracts, then used not one, not two, not three, but four choices in the June 2014 draft on gents who are either injured or have existing contracts with European teams. Drafting them ensured more losing!

Please don't try to understand or write about other sports!  You're bad enough when it comes to football!  Thanks!

Unified Field Theory of Creep: 

Yep, he's still going back to that well.

AFC South

Hardly seems as though
Peyton departed, does it?
Indy Lucky Charms.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Fisher shown the door
after 16: downhill since.
Tennessee Titans.
Forecast finish: 7-9

Kirk, Spock both yelled KHANNNNNNNNNNNNNN!
How long 'til Jax fans yell same?
Jacksonville Jaguars.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Texans last season,
Three Mile Island: two meltdowns.
The Houston Texans.
Forecast finish: 6-10


The Lucky Charms!  A terrible new nickname!  Has he been using this all these years, and I just failed to notice?  And look at the Texans one--don't tell me he's retiring "Moo Cows."  THAT'S GOLD, JERRY!  GOLD!  Their mascot looks like a cow, so he calls them the cows, plus adds the sound cows make.  Why isn't he editor in chief of Harper's yet?

Harvard's endowment is sufficient that every undergraduate could attend free, but instead university insiders live in luxury while alums are dunned for more donations, a topic this column will return to later this autumn with my annual endowment-abuse item.

Honestly the only part of any of his columns I actively enjoy.  Big private universities with huge endowments that beg and beg and beg their alums relentlessly are fucking awful.  

Hedge funds are consistently effective at one thing -- enriching their own top management. Bernard Madoff ran a hedge fund. 

Haha, look, I hate big time Wall Street investment bankers and fund managers as much as the next working stiff, but those two sentences next to each other are pretty fucking ludicrous.  You might as well say "Governments are terrible.  Pol Pot ran a government."

NFC South

Gave Seahawks better
playoff game than Broncos did.
New Orleans Saints.
Forecast finish: 12-4

League's only team with
a Director of Mascots.
Carolina Cats.
Forecast finish: 12-4

Bad-sport Schiano
replaced by nice guy Lovie.
Tampa Buccaneers.
Forecast finish: 6-10

NFC title
game seems very long ago.
Atlanta Falcons.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Look, Greg Schiano is a gaping asshole, but we don't need to keep talking about him, do we?  I think he has successfully eliminated himself from the NFL head coaching pool (non-Raiders division) for life.  The BROWNS wouldn't hire him this offseason.  The fucking Browns.  Let's let him fade into obscurity, shall we?

AFC West

Scoreboard was spinning
'til met the Bluish Men Group.
The Denver Broncos.
Forecast finish: 11-5

Made it to nine-oh;
do not talk about the rest.
Kansas City Chiefs.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Dude, let's hit the beach.
Whoa, we have a game today?
San Diego Bolts.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Soon may have no home.
Then San Antonio bound?
The Oakland Raiders.
Forecast finish: 3-13


The Chargers one is probably as bad as these could possibly get.  Right?  Jesus, Mary and fucking Joseph, I hope so.

Exhaust On The Car Pages: This column has noted that newspapers long have had a touchy relationship with auto reviewing. Auto dealers are major advertisers, so reviewers tend to praise all marques. Reviewers tend to extol maximum horsepower, regardless of cost, environmental impact or the relationship between horsepower and road rage -- after all, they don't fuel or insure the cars they test-drive. The terrific 2002 book "High and Mighty" by Keith Bradsher detailed the ways in which automakers all but bribe newspaper reviewers.

Dude, it's 2014, not 1987.  Fuel economy has been a large concern for like 99% of car buyers for more than a decade now.  This is not exactly a timely news item.  You think newspaper car columnists were busy talking about 0 to 60 times and number of cupholders in the middle of post-mortgage crisis recession five years ago?  Get fucking real.  The exception would be, of course, publications aimed at readers who want to buy super high end high performance cars with bad gas mileage, and who have lots of money, and don't care about fuel economy, and make up a small portion of the population, and are mostly assholes who aren't worth complaining about.

[Three paragraphs of complaining deleted]

Of course the New York Times has wealthy readers who want news about products for the 1 percent: the paper touts expensive fashion and high-end restaurants, too. 

He figured it out!  

But a designer cocktail dress or $300 meal don't have public-policy implications. 

First of all, they kind of do.  Second of all, good fucking luck getting a publication that caters to wealthy readers to try to tell the wealthy readers to stop enjoying the kinds of things wealthy people enjoy.  Let me know how that works out.

New Cognomen: Reader Damon Spear of Seattle argues, "If you're going to use Jersey/A, Jersey/B and City of Tampa, you should call Colin Kaepernick's team the Santa Clara 49ers." Mr. Data, make it so!

I'm going to fucking cry.  I'm going to fucking cry.

NFC West

Second-best for two
straight years. This year may be best?
Santa Clara team.
Forecast finish: 12-4

West Coast offense steps
back, West Coast defense steps up.
Seattle Seahawks.
Forecast finish: 11-5

Won 10, went home: League
needs seeded playoff format.
The AZ Cardinals.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Chose Bradford over
Griffin: Regrets begin now.
The St. Louis Rams.
Forecast finish: 4-12


Solid analysis on the Rams one.  The decision was definitely that simple: either Bradford, or Griffin.  That's all it came down to.  And to be sure, while Bradford's career is now completely off track. Griffin has zero injury issues and at this point is guaranteed to be much better than Bradford will be if and when Bradford's body stops falling apart.

Sports Economics Watch: Two weeks ago TMQ noted that Tony Romo and Andy Dalton, a combined 1-6 in the postseason, have richer contracts than Tom Brady, whose 18 playoff victories are the most ever. 

Record in seven preseason games (during which the guys named probably played a combined total of like 100 snaps) vs. number of playoff wins, 80% of which were accumulated before Barack Obama was elected.  That's some gooooood analyzin' right there.  How about you just say that Romo is getting old and getting terrible, and Dalton is young and will probably never be better than mediocre, and Brady, even though he's old, is better than both of them?  Would that maybe be a better way to illustrate this TRAVESTY that is pro athlete pay not perfectly tracking to players' relative levels of skill?

Next Week: During the preseason, Tuesday Morning Quarterback uses "vanilla" items designed to confuse scouts from other sports columns. Starting next week as the football artificial universe resumes, TMQ will come at readers from all directions with obscure references, recondite analogies and unorthodox fact packages. I'll employ an up-tempo format in which each new item begins before the previous one ends.

And I'll be right here the whole way, pointing out what a dipshit you are.