Sunday, October 28, 2012


That's the probability of both me and my wife facing Doug Martin this week. What have we done to deserve this?

Awful Illini

We lost to Indiana. At home.


But wait. We had 80 more offensive yards. We had more time of possession. How did we lose by 14?

Short answer: We had more penalties and turnovers.

This was the first Illinois game I got to watch this year, so here's the long answer:

1. Up 7-0, personal foul on our defense. Instead of 3rd and 5 from the ILL 41, it's 1st down at our 26. Hoosier touchdown four plays later.

2. Up 14-7, personal foul on our defense. Instead of 4th and 6 at the IND 31, its 1st down near midfield. Hoosier touchdown three plays later.

3. THIS WAS THE FUCKING WORST. At 14-14, Illinois defense forces a punt. Illinois muffs at it the Illini 22, Indiana recovers. Our defense doesn't let them get a first down on three plays. On 4th and 1, Indiana lines up to go for it, except everyone in Memorial Stadium knows they're just trying to draw us offsides. And what do we do. We jump offsides. Give them a first down. Hoosier touchdown on the next play.

This doesn't deserve a bullet point, but down 14-21, with 40 seconds to go until halftime, Illinois faces a 4th and 11 at the Indiana 36. I know it's 4th and long, but there's so little time left that if you give them the ball at their own 36, what can they do with it? Not anything more than we could do with it at their 36. What do we do? Punt. Touchback. Gain of 16 yards. And the kneel to halftime.

4. Down 14-21, we fumble at the ILL 22. Defense holds again, and they only get a field goal.

Down 14-24, we have first and goal at their 7. Rush to the 6. Rush to the 1. Rush to the 3. Field goal. Cut  the deficit to 7. We had two more chances to get a touchdown but couldn't move the ball. Our defense finally bends too far and allows another Hoosier touchdown.

Except for the penalties, our defense played well enough for us to win.
Our turnovers basically gave them ten points and our offense was not good enough to overcome that.


Curling: Week Four

The skip on the opposing team was one of those guys that takes everything too seriously. Before the game even started he made a comment about one of members warming up, he said that we weren't supposed to warm up on the sheet we'd be playing on. Never mind the fact that they were warming up on the sheet one over, it's a really dick thing to say. This is the rookie curling league. Relax.

And then I found out that he isn't even on this team--he's subbing. Also, I think it's weird to be a sub and play skip, especially when you act like you own the joint. Anyways.

We were red.

We scored a point each in the first two ends, they tied it with two in the third. (In the first end, we had to get out the measuring device and McSerious thought it was one point for yellow. Very sastisfying to be proven right.)

In the fourth end, I was up and hit two perfect draw shots to the four-foot, curling in behind some guards. McSerious threw two down the middle, and before our last shot I couldn't tell if we were sitting two red or just one. Our skip threw the hammer and it bumped his closest yellow, making it a definitive three red. (As the vice-skip, I called her shot well and called the sweeping perfectly, so I felt really good about those three points.)

We added another point in the fifth. Red 6, Yellow 2.

They scored in the sixth. Red 6, Yellow 3.

At this point, the other teams are finishing their eight and final end. So I asked if we were going to play seven, or the full eight. I got a noncommittal answer from the other team's vice, "We'll see how what we can fit in." But I knew with us up three, it would affect our strategy if this was the last end.

The reason we were so behind? You guessed it. McSerious takes forever, even walking down to the house between his shots.

We had the hammer. And they got two in the four-foot, including a nice take-out. With just a couple shots left, the other teams were putting their stones away. So I confirmed that this was the last end. On their last shot, McSerious couldn't get to the house. We had the hammer, and I wanted our skip to just burn it. Worst case scenario, she bumped a yellow into the house, and gave them a three to tie. She insisted on shooting, but it was short. We gave them the two points in the last end, but we got the win. Red 6, Yellow 5.

So now we're 4-0.

They didn't post the standings, so I'm not sure who we're facing in the championship. My guess is the team from last week. Stay tuned for next week's recap. Should be a good one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

ESSAY: The Miracle That Almost Wasn't

What follows is an essay that I wrote for an upcoming book. In the editing process, I realized that it didn't fit with the rest of them. Instead of leaving it on the cutting room floor never to be seen, here it is.

- - -

Herb Brooks, Mike Eruzione and even Al Michaels have probably never heard of Dick Lamm. But they should shake his hand. If it weren’t for him, the Miracle on Ice never would have happened.

On May 12, 1970, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics to the United States. Denver, Colorado would host the Games.

16 years prior, Aspen and Colorado Springs launched a joint effort to bring the 1960 Olympics to Colorado. Those Games were hosted in the United States, but at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe.

After having Olympics in Austria, France and Japan, the Games were ready to come back to America. Denver beat out Switzerland in the final vote. When the Denver bid committee returned home they were greeted as heroes. A brass band and motorcade toured through the Mile High City.

The glory was short lived. Thanks to a member of the Colorado General Assembly named Dick Lamm. He didn’t want the Olympics in Colorado. And he set out to turn the public against them. Some were worried about the impact on the environment. Others were worried that the state would become overcrowded. Mostly, as it always is, it was about money.

And on November 7, 1972, the voters spoke. 59.4% of Coloradans said they weren’t willing to spend their tax dollars on hosting the Olympics. And like that, the Games were gone. Without funding, the IOC moved the Games to Austria, the host in 1964.

Denver did what no other city or country has ever done to this day: turn down a successful Olympic bid.

The Games went on. Franz Klammer represented the host country well, winning gold in downhill skiing. Dorothy Hamill took home the figure skating gold for the U.S. Everyone had a good time.

The story of the 1976 Winter Olympics ends there. But this is just the beginning. What those Colorado voters didn’t realize in 1972 is that vote created two timelines. A no vote created the timeline that we’ve lived in ever since.

But a yes vote would have created a timeline where the 1976 Olympics are held in the United States. Meaning the 1980 Olympics would have not been held in Lake Placid, New York.

In the timeline we know, Vancouver and Lake Placid were the only bids for the 1980 Games. But in the other timeline, there’s no chance North America would receive back-to-back Olympics.

Some people might think where the Olympics were held wouldn’t have affected the outcome. That the 1980 team of American college hockey players would still have upset the Soviets if the game was played in Finland, Japan, or Yugoslavia. I don’t buy it for a second.

How life unfolds is fragile.

The U.S. had requested to move the medal round game from 5pm to 8pm so it could be shown live in prime-time. The Soviets declined because that would have been a 4am start in Moscow. If that puck drops three hours later, I don’t think Schneider ties the game 14:03 into the first. Or that Johnson puts a rebound home one second before the first period buzzer. Even a simple change of the time of the game and I don’t think Johnson and Eruzione score two goals in the third and hold on for the victory.

So if the game was held in a different country with different flags waving and different fans pounding on the glass, I don’t think the game unfolds the same way.

What some consider the greatest moment in sports history would never have happened if it weren’t for some penny-pinching Colorado voters. We would never have known it was possible. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chiefs 1-5
Illini 1-5 (can't count non 1-A teams)
Fantasy 0-7

Total 2-17

And one of them was against Western Michigan.

Though I'm considering drafting Matthew Stafford every year just to ruin the Lions' season.

The Results of the 2000 Presidential Election if the Electoral College Awarded All States Proportionally

So a few days ago I posted How to Fix the Electoral College. I couldn't let it go.

Before I was sure that it was a good idea I needed to run the numbers and see what it would look like.

Here is the 2000 election showing state results comparing what happened to a proportional vote:

In 15 out of 51, due to rounding and 3rd party candidates, there was a leftover electoral vote. I awarded this to the candidate that won the state and marked these spots in teal. In Minnesota, due to rounding, there was an extra electoral vote. I deducted it from the candidate receiving the fewest votes, Nader.

(Also in 2000, DC had 3 electoral votes. One abstained in protest. So it's not on the chart above, but I've included it below in Gore's totals for math purposes.)

The popular vote totals:
Gore: 50,999,897
Bush: 50,456,002

Gore v Bush ratio = 50.268
Bush v Gore ratio = 49.732

Gore v Bush EC ratio = 267/538 = 49.628
Bush v Gore EC ratio = 271/538 = 50.372

Gore v Bush Prop ratio = 269/532 = 50.564
Bush v Gore Prop ratio = 263/532 = 49.436

So the EC was off the popular vote by .64
The Prop was off the popular vote by .296

It's more than twice as loyal to the popular vote, but I'm surprised it's not more so...there is quite a bit of rounding in this plan. Still mimicking the popular vote is not the main goal of this system. If it were, we could just use the popular vote.

- - -

Also, note that this system gives Nader 6 in the EC, compared to the 0 that he actually got in 2000. Not much but a truer representation that people actually voted for him.

- - -

Without running the numbers I am quite sure that in the 2008 election, Obama would have still won but it wouldn't have been as big of a blowout.

Quick analysis:

Obama's EC count: 365/538 = 67.844% of the nation's electoral votes
But Obama received 53.68% of the popular vote for the two main candidates.

- - -

What I love about this is that each state is no longer characterized as red or blue. Our states hold a mix of people and states like California and Texas that are solidly one way or the other, in reality are more nuanced. Not only would this create a better campaign season but it might not be so divisive on the country.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fixing the Electoral College

I really thought I had already written this solution. But my search comes up empty. I'll try and keep this brief.

Current Problems with Electoral College
1. Most of the country doesn't have an incentive to vote as their state is already leaning one way or the other.
2. The candidates spend all their time and money in the swing states that matter

Problems with using the National Popular Vote
1. While every vote "counts," I predict that many people would think that in race of 130 million votes, their vote is insignificant
2. It's more complicated to count on election night and if there's a recount, it would be a disaster
3. Critics claim that candidates would spend all their time and money in big cities

The Obvious Solution
Keep the Electoral College but award all states proportionally, instead of winner take all.

Does it even make sense that in a state like Ohio that is split 50/50 every election, that all 18 electoral votes go one way or the other?

California has long been a solid 55 for Democrats. But that state's vote is only 57/40. If you're a Republican in CA, you must feel like it doesn't matter, but it's not like you're alone.

Plus, it would give third party candidates a chance to at least appear respectable, which is the first step toward building a viable third party.

If I had a ton of free time I'd love to go back and look at the last three elections under this system...but I don't. My guess is that each race would be even tighter.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Curling: Week Three

All week I was thinking about how big this game was...

Friday I get an email from our skip. She's not going to make it and has asked for a sub. So now I'm going to be skip. I've never been skip. I've only played two games as vice-skip. I'm not ready.

Saturday I see another email. Our first isn't going to be there and has asked for a sub.

I left for the game not knowing if we'd even have three. You can play with three, but if you only have two, it's a forfeit.

I show up and don't see any of my team members. I ask the people waiting on our sheet what team they're from, expecting them to say Dream Team, our opponent.

Woman: I'm on Hammer Time.
Me: Oh great, me too.
Woman: Oh, hmmm, I guess that makes five of us.
Me: (wtf?)

So I guess we won't be forfeiting. Turns out we had three subs show up, so we sent one of them to another match that needed one.

So we had four. I was the skip for the first time. We were yellow. Game on.

I start off awesome. In the first end I had the hammer and I knocked out a red one so they only scored one.
In the second, I get the hammer again and turn it from a red point to a yellow. 1-1 after two.

We get in a groove and score one point each in the third and fourth. 3-1 after four. The game goes quick when you're the skip.

In the fifth, we had four in the house prior to their hammer shot. I tried to lay a guard to protect our three, but it carried into the house. So I was thinking this is either four yellow or one red. And with a 3-1 lead, this would make it 7-1 and basically put us in the championship, or it would be 3-2 and a nailbiter.

The red skip nails it, right down the middle, perfect takeout and score. 3-2 after five.

(I've always considered the sixth a key end. Because you want the hammer in the eighth. So you don't mind if they score in the seventh. So you do whatever you can to score in the sixth. If you end up scoring in the sixth and seventh, great. But if they score in the sixth, now you need to score in the seventh and give them the hammer.)

So we've got the hammer in the sixth and we get a point. I didn't need to do anything as we had one in the house and it was well guarded.

So now we're up 4-2. By the time I get up, it's a wide open sheet with two yellow in the house. I place another in the house, but high enough to act as a guard. The red shot sails through and now we're up 7-2 with only one to play. Fuck yeah.

Halfway though the last end they had four out of play, so I knew that we had won. On my last shot I hit exactly what I aimed for, bumping a yellow back to takeout a red, the only stone in the house.

Final 8-2.

I won the first game I was skip against a 2-0 team. Now we're 3-0 and in the championship. Holy crap.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Album Release List

I've always wanted a service that would email me when one of my favorite bands releases a new album. A friend at work told me about iConcertCal. It didn't work. Then I tried some other shitty thing and it didn't work. Anyways, I made this so I can quickly check if any of my bands have anything new and I can easily add to it.

Alkaline Trio
Brand New
Childish Gambino
Dashboard Confessional
Forever the Sickest Kids
The Get Up Kids
The Hold Steady
Jimmy Eat World
Motion City Soundtrack
The National
Panic at the Disco
Saves The Day
The Strokes
Vampire Weekend

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Curling Standings

Remaining Schedule:

Hammer Time vs Dream Team
Hammer Tive vs Smith
Week 5: Championship

So a win this week would guarantee that we would finish in the top two.
But what if we lose this week? We would have to beat Smith.

So it makes it pretty simple. Two games left. Win one and you're in.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baseball Playoffs

For Hoagie Central's coverage of the 2012 regular season, click here.

Once I saw the Giants and Cardinals and Tigers and Yankees, it felt like these teams had all won recently. So I wanted to check the last time each of the playoff teams won.

St. Louis Cardinals: Last WS appearance and Win: 2011
San Francisco Giants: Last WS appearance and Win: 2010
New York Yankees: Last WS appearance and Win: 2009
Atlanta Braves: Last WS Win: 1995. Last WS appearance: 1999
Cincinnati Reds: Last WS appearance and Win: 1990
Oakland A's: Last WS Win: 1989. Last WS appearance: 1990
Detroit Tigers: Last WS Win: 1984. Last WS appearance: 2006
Baltimore Orioles: Last WS appearance and Win: 1983
Texas Rangers: Last WS appearance: 2011
Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos: never

8 of the 10 playoff teams had already won a World Series.
3 of the 4 current teams have won the last three Series.

Curling: Week Two

Tonight was a 3 on 3 match as both teams were missing a person. We were red.

After the first end, one of their players disappears. And in comes...Pam, the President of the Curling Club. Her name is hanging on a banner in the hall, 1990 National Champions. And now she'll be shooting 3 stones, opposite me. Umm...isn't this supposed to be a rookie league (under 3 years experience)? Now we can have a former national champion playing against little old me that learned how to curl in 2012?

Anyways the score was Yellow 2 after the first end when she subbed in.

After four ends it was Yellow 4, Red 3. It should have been tied, but our skip threw a shot that advanced one of their stones so we only scored 1 instead of 2 in the third. I remember thinking that I hadn't hit a good shot yet, but we were only down one.

The Fifth End:

By the time I came up there were two yellow just on the front right of the house.

My first shot (4th of 8 in the end) was short and to the left.
Pam's shot (5th) landed nicely in the house, left side, 8-foot ring.
My second shot (5th) was a perfect takeout of the previous shot, sticking right there.
Pam's next (6th) was a perfect takeout of my shot, sticking right there. (Which always fucking happens. I hit a great shot and it's gone on the next one.)
My last shot (6th) looked like it might zoom through the house, but just clipped the previous yellow stone, sending the yellow out and to the left, spinning my red stone to the back right of the house, now protected by the two yellow stones that were there the whole time.
Yellow skip's next (7th) was short.
I was now ready to call the shot for our skip. She wanted to come in to the house via a window on the right side, but it was too risky--too many yellow stones she could have advanced. So I changed the call and brought her on the left, far outside. It had a good line and reached the house, but was just farther away than the closest of the two yellow in the house.
Yellow's last was also short.
Hammer time. (Which is also our new team name.) I called for the same shot. And sure enough, she hit it, advancing her previous shot closer.

So that's it. To me it looked like two red were closest. Pam takes a look and says, "Three red?" So I said yes. She was counting the 8th stone which had somehow spun forward. She was already clearing her yellow stones away so I couldn't have even tried to argue for them. But anyways, she was conceding the points.

So now it's Red 6, Yellow 4 after five.

I had some more good shots in the sixth. We ended up having two in the house. I called for a guard to block the only window, since they had the hammer. She tried but it still left an alley. So they have the hammer. If he can draw between all the guards, it will be 6-5. If not, 8-4. A three-point swing, which this late would basically be the game. It looked good coming out, but drifted right toward the end, bumping into guards harmlessly. Red 8, Yellow 4 after six.

Basically the same thing happened in the 7th. Toward the end we had three in the house. They had the hammer, but the ice was tricky to come in on the right side. Virtually all the stones were on the left, except for two way far out right. So there was a window, but no one could hit it. The hammer failed.

Red 11, Yellow 4 after seven. And that's when Pam started shaking hands. We had time for the 8th, though it was borderline. But my guess is since the score was basically out of reach and the time was a factor, that she called it.

So last week Hammer Time won 16-2. This week 11-4. We went on an 11-2 run once Pam came in the game. And a 8-0 run after being down 3-4. Good curling.

Monday, October 08, 2012

ESPN vs Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs

I didn't think it was a big deal yesterday, but apparently ESPN decided to make this into the biggest story of the week.

First let me address the four possibilities of why the crowd may have cheered after that play:

1) They were excited about a first down in a close game.
2) They were trying to pump up Brady. (I know his last name is Quinn, but I feel better calling him Brady. Positive associations.)
3) They didn't want Cassel to be hurt, but they wanted him benched. They were happy that one way or another, a QB change was coming.
4) They were made at Cassel for performing consistently poor over his career in KC and were glad that he got hurt.

So let's go deeper.

1) This was probably everyone at first, but then they realized what happened. This doesn't explain the duration of the cheering or the shouts of Bra-dy, Bra-dy.
2) This is unlikely and not the right time while your starter is down. I doubt many were thinking this way.
3) I don't have a problem with this. This is not a cheer for an injury. This is a cheer for a change in personnel, the same way a crowd might cheer a new pitcher coming into a game.
4) I seriously doubt there were more than a handful of idiots thinking this.

- - -

To me this is not a big deal. If not for a questionable McCluster penalty call, Brady to Bowe would have taken the lead late in the game. The fans had a right to be excited about the QB change.

So I'm pretty surprised when I load up and see an article from Snoop Jackson on the homepage. Seriously? Snoop Jackson? I thought he got shitcanned years ago.

The title: Fear and self-loathing in Kansas City

Quotes from the article: "So here we are, America. Facing the truth of our internal hate; facing the depths of how low we can go." "Cassel and the rest of the Chiefs found out that loyalty between players and fans can sometimes be a one-way street."


For lifetimes, the loyalty between teams and fans has been a one-way street. When teams can abandon cities over money and stadium upgrades and leagues will lockout canceling games, knowing the fans will come crawling back.

And yes, he said between players and fans. But the reality is that players come and go. They get traded. They leave as free agents. They retire. They get hurt and can't play anymore.

So fans have to be loyal to the team. But they're also loyal to the players because they're loyal to the team. I'm still happy for Tony Gonzalez, knowing how much he gave to this team.

The idea that players are more loyal to fans than the other way around is ludicrous.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

WTF Chiefs?

If you told me the Chiefs would hold the Ravens to 9 points at Arrowhead I would have been ecstatic.

So how did this team lose again, and at home no less?

This team is so bad that even though it was on tv, I chose to spend time with my family instead of watching the game. So I'm not sure. Time to break down the Chiefs possessions:

1: 3 and out. Punt on 4th and 2.
2: Punt on 4th and 11.
3: Fumble on a HB toss to Gray.
4: Cassel interception.
5: After getting to BAL 7, field goal from BAL 12.
6. Punt on 4th and 1 at BAL 43 to end half. ???
7: 1st and goal from BAL 1. Bad snap on QB sneak, fumble.
8: 3 and out. Punt on 4th and 5.
9: Cassel interception.
10. Punt on 4th and 15.
11: Cassel injured. Brady Quinn takes over at midfield and drives down the field. Touchdown pass nullified by penalty. Field goal.

The Ravens would convert two third downs and run the clock out.

- - -

So let's see. 11 possessions.

4 turnovers
5 punts
2 field goals

Both Cassel INTs were on tipped passes by his receiver.
The first fumble was a pitch that was blown by Gray. The second was a bad snap from a guard who's replaced our center who's out for the year.

So none of the 4 turnovers were really Cassel's fault. But it doesn't look good.

Hoagie Central takes you deeper.

2nd posession: 3rd and 8 from the BAL 46. Shotgun formation. Handoff to HB Draughn. Loss of 3. From their 46, shotgun handoff? It wasn't even a draw to Charles. If you surprise the d-line there's still no way you can get 8 yards running it on a simple handoff. Showed a complete lack of trust in Cassel.

With 12 seconds to go in the half, the Chiefs had a 4th down from the BAL 43. Why isn't this a hail mary? If it's picked, Baltimore will take a knee to go into the half. If it's incomplete, the Ravens have a 57 yard hail mary attempt. Instead of taking a shot, they punt.

First possession of the second half: qb sneak on 1st and goal from the 1. It's a bad snap. So it's on the center. But they were doing a hurry-up. Ed Reed said after the game he knew it was a sneak from the way they were hurrying to snap it. If the play works, the Chiefs take the lead and there's no questions. It's not an awful call. But still, don't you owe it to Charles to give him a shot from the 1?

Last possession: Quinn drives down the field and gets it to Bowe in the end zone, but penalty takes it back. This is with 5 minutes to go. Would have been 10-9. Flacco would have probably been able to drive into field goal range anyways, but still, would have been great.

- - -

Chiefs fans cheered when Cassel left and Brady Quinn came on.

I'm not happy that Cassel was injured. I would never be that kind of fan.

But I am happy to give Quinn a chance. Because literally, we have nothing to lose. It almost has to be better.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Curling: Week One

Curling is back in session.

I signed up for the first fall session, five Saturdays. Four round-robin games and one championship/bowl week.

On Friday night I subbed for a team in the non-rookie league. It was a tight one. The team I was playing for ending up losing 5-4. But that’s 9 points in 8 ends, just one more than the expected minimum. The loss was no skin off my back. I had some good shots. Of course one of them was wiped out on the very next shot. But that’s curling for you. I got some good practice in. They let me shoot second.

Tonight I showed up on our league team. Our team lineup changed and I’m now a secure vice-skip (3rd position). Which is ideal for me. Skip is awesome but I’m not ready.

Tonight we were yellow.

1st end: Yellow 1
2nd end: Yellow 2
3rd end: Yellow 2
4th end: Red 1

So halfway through, we’re up 5-1.

5th end: Yellow 2

That was a big one. 7-1 is much different than 5-2.

6th end: Yellow 2

Now we’re up 9-1 with two to go. Can breathe easy.

7th end: Red 1

9-2 going into the last one, but we have the hammer.

As the vice skip, I get to call the shot for the skip. For her first shot, I called a takeout of a red stone. Yellow was sitting one, then one red, and then a bunch of yellows around. So I was hoping to takeout the red one and get a multiple score. But the takeout didn’t work. It was short. Then red had their last shot that didn’t go anywhere.

We could have called it one yellow for a 10-2 win. But we had the hammer, one last chance to add more points. So I called for a draw to the button, why not? It comes in looking good, and wouldn’t you know? It hits the red stone, knocks it out of the back of the house. So I’m looking around and all I see is yellow stones now. Too many to count. Someone shouted seven. We scored seven out of eight possible stones. An 8-ender is of course the best you can do in an end and is rare and legendary. Getting a 7-ender in our first game? That’s crazy.

Final Score: 16-2.

I had joked before the last end that the other team needed an 8-ender to win.

I hit a bunch of great shots, all draws with good weight and did good on the calling end as well. Playing for our team is 100 times better than being a sub. You’d think it would be about the same, but for some reason, I didn’t enjoy subbing. But this game was awesome.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012