Tuesday, March 29, 2016


As of March 29, 2016, you can pre-order the Back to the Future game that comes out on March 18, 2016. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rocket League Online Highlight Collection

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been playing a lot of Rocket League online. Here are my best plays in my first 6 weeks of online play.

Here's an overtime goal where I had to adjust at the last second.

Another OT goal with a backwards bicycle kick.

Here are two more OT goals from tough angles.

Here's what would turn out to be the game winner from distance. I included the last scene just to show the final score.

How about some nice saves?

Here's the reason why you can't just always try to hit it. My teammate who had the best of intentions, knocked the ball away from me right before I was about to drain the OT winner. We'd lose this game.

This is a 1-on-1 comeback that went to OT. At 2:34 you I feint like I'm going for the ball so he attacks. The result is an easy score.

Here's what that last play looked like from his view. You can see that the ball obscures my path so it really looks like I'm about to hit the ball when he makes contact.

In this one my teammate makes a nice air pass, and I knock it home.

I saved the best for last. Here's my first aerial goal. It didn't actually register as an aerial hit, I guess I wasn't high enough. But still, I used my rocket boost to go up and get this one.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Rocket League Online: A Revenge Story

A little over a month ago, I paid for the ability to play Rocket League online. Since then, I've played a lot. They have a competitive circuit where you get a ranking and try and move up the ranks. Out of 15 ranks, I'm in the 5th from the bottom in 1v1 and 2v2 and only 3rd from the bottom in 3v3. So I'm by no means an all-star. Anyways, I was taking a break from the competitive circuit and played a game of unranked doubles. So win or lose, it doesn't affect your ranking.

Game One

I was matched up against, let's just call them Opponent A and Opponent B. My teammate wasn't very strong. When it was still 0-0, I passed it to him for an open shot on goal and he flubbed it. Hey, it happens. I had a bunch of shots that looked pretty but ended up hitting the crossbar or post. They got up 3-0. Then we scored one. And in the on-screen chat, Opponent B says "luck." They're winning 3-1 and a quick look at the stats shows that Opponent A is carrying their team, but he feels the need to cut us down. So I'm pissed and I want a rematch. 

Game Two

My teammate leaves and I get a new one, but I'm still facing the same opponents. Similar story, they get out to a 3-0 lead. We score one and they say luck again. We actually pull off a nice comeback and tie the game at 3-3 with 8 seconds left. And then on the kickoff, my teammate whiffs on one and they win with 1 second left. 

Game Three

We all do a rematch of the same teams. Again they get out an early lead, maybe 3-1, but we come all the way back and win 5-3. Satisfying. In the chat, Opponent A says "rematch that was all luck." I was planning on leaving after the win, but once I saw that I couldn't resist. I felt like they weren't that good and I had been unlucky in the first game. 

Game Four

So we do a rematch except I get a new teammate. He of course, knows nothing of any of these game or previous chats, so he's walking into a tense situation blind. Anyways, I recorded the full game from my perspective:

So there you have it. The biggest blowout win I've ever had in Rocket League at the perfect time. At the end, both opponents immediately left without saying a word. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Blogging through the Bracket

I'm going to try something a bit different this year. Instead of just jumping into making a bracket, I'm going to take a little time to absorb it, and blog my way through my process. I'm going to do all this before I look at 538's numbers to not be biased away from my gut.

- - -

Not counting this year, Michigan State has gone to the Final Four 7 times. 5 times they lost their first Final Four game. Only one national title. I'm going to go with history and say they get there but lose right away.

In the top right, I like WVU more than Xavier, but I don't like either of them as much as UNC/Indiana/Kentucky. Indiana won the big ten regular season but I trust Kentucky more. So I think UNC/Kentucky is for the Final Four.

The last time UNC went to the Final Four, they won it all. Kentucky famously lost last year, 38-1.

So I'm going UNC over MSU in the Final Four.

- - -

Kansas is rewarded with the easiest region. Even though they have a history of early upsets, this seems like a solid squad and an easy path.

- - -

I don't trust Oregon or Texas A&M. I really liked Oklahoma earlier in the season, but I also fear Duke. I'm thinking Oklahoma overcomes Duke to set up a Big 12 Final Four matchup.

- - -

Kansas vs Oklahoma. Really is a toss up. So in cases like this, I will default to who has the easier path. Even though it's tempting to pick Oklahoma over Kansas, I think Kansas has a 70% chance of getting to the FF, and Oklahoma only has a 30%.

So Kansas vs UNC in the championship, the Roy Williams game.

Again, another one that could go either way for me. Even though I think UNC faces tougher opponents, I trust them more not to get bounced out early.

So there you go, I guess I'm picking UNC to win it all. Fuck.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

There's 17 minutes to go in the 2nd period of Ducks-Avs. Avs are up 1-0, shots are 14-10 Ducks.

The Ducks announcers just said twice in one minute that "You gotta think the Ducks are going to score 3 goals in this game."

Update: For the second time in two meetings, the Avs beat the Ducks 3-0. I realize it's petty, but I'm enjoying the egg on the announcer's face.

Avs 3, Coyotes 1: I Was There

Tommy says to me, I know a guy. With season tickets. Tommy says he can get two tickets. So there you go.

We had dinner at Wazee Supper Club where I had the all meat calzone and the amazeballs appetizer. Then it's time to head to the Can.

It's Celtic Appreciation day so there's bagpipes being played. Okay.

The announcer on the jumbotron tells us before the game that this is basically a playoff game. So there you go, free playoff tickets!

Here's our seats:

I've now sat in a few places in the Pepsi Center. These were probably my least favorite. But as a wide angle, you did get a chance to see the plays develop a lot more.

Within the first minute, the Avs turn the puck over and give up a great scoring chance. Varlamov made a great save. Throughout the first period, there were lots of turnovers by both teams, including some sloppy skating where players were falling seemingly off their own accord. Lots of scoring chances for both sides. I thought the Coyotes generally outplayed the Avs in the first, but Colorado had a 1-0 lead off a lucky bounce leading to a tip-in.

In the second period, toward the end of a power play, Johnson pokes at the puck in the neutral zone, getting it to Grigorenko. Who passes to Duchene, passes to Comeau, passes back to Duchene for the one-timer goal.

Good shit!

Arizona kept getting good chances but Varlamov was making great plays. 2-0 Avs through two.

In the third, Grigorenko makes a nifty play to get a rebound in the back of the net and it's 3-0 Avs with 14 to play. At this point, it feels like, oh man, the Avs got this one, it's not even a contest. Game over, blow out city.

And then the Coyotes score with 11 minutes left. 3-1.

And then about twenty seconds later they have another great scoring chance and I realize that if Arizona gets another one it's going to be very nerve-wracking, as Colorado has a reputation for giving up third-period leads. So basically the entire last 10 minutes were very tense and exciting, even though it had felt like a blowout earlier.

But they hung on for a 3-1 win. They put the puck in the empty net but after the buzzer.

This brings my personal attendance record to 5-3, with 5 x's on the hit list.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Lovie Effect

P.S. 20% off at Fanatics through today

Monday, March 07, 2016

Lovie to Illinois

Illinois Football made front-page headlines on ESPN and other national media...and it was a good thing.

Last time that happened was probably the Rose Bowl berth, maybe Wes Lunt transferring. And after the entire scandal last year, firing Beckman, the two-year deal for Cubit, we needed some good news.

- - -

On November 28, 2015, Illinois football named interim coach Bill Cubit the official coach on a 2-year deal. Here's how the interim-AD spoke about it.

That's when the block I no longer stood for Illinois. It became Interim. Or not Ideal.

In December, USA Today graded the college football hires. Syracuse got a B+ for Dino Babers. Illinois got a F for Bill Cubit.

As you can imagine when your coach is on a two-year deal (that most people read between the lines as a one-year deal, since you never have a lame duck coach) recruits started decommitting. It was far from ideal.

Then Illinois hired Josh Whitman to be the AD. He saw that the Cubit deal was not only "not ideal," it was in fact a dagger in the heart of the program.

He started talking to Lovie Smith two weeks ago. His first day on the job he fired Cubit and two days later introduced Smith as our new head coach.

- - -

The highlight of Lovie Smith's coaching career is a consistently successful stint running the Chicago Bears. Their defense was always strong and sometimes to be feared. He got Rex Grossman to the Super Bowl. The year he was fired he went 10-6. In the three seasons since, the Bears have never had a winning record.

In Tampa Bay, he went from 2-14 to 6-10. I was surprised he was fired with that kind of improvement.

As a DC, he took the Rams defense from worst in the league in 2000 to appearing in the Super Bowl in 2001. (Went from giving up 29 a game to 17)

He's known for high ethical standards and for having his players love him. Two things that Illinois could really use right now.

Illinois, in particular the Chicago area is home to a large amount of talented high school football players that go virtually anywhere but Illinois. How many of them watched Lovie take the Bears to the Super Bowl? How many black high school students in Illinois would be more interested in talking to Lovie Smith than Bill Cubit?

No one expects him to arrive and for us to suddenly beat Ohio State. But if he can produce a consistent defense, Illinois will be in a lot more games.

USA Today gave Cubit a F.
I give Smith an A+.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

I'll be attending the Coyotes-Avalanche game Monday night at the Pepsi Center.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

How I Predicted Best Picture

I was reading this article on FiveThirtyEight which tracks previous award shows as data points to forecast the Oscars. 

It showed DiCaprio and Larson as prohibitive favorites, which of course was born out. It had Vikander as a decent favorite (she won) and Stallone as a slight favorite over Rylance (Rylance won). 

As for Best Picture, he were was their rankings on February 5th: 

I've captured the top four data points. 

My reaction to these data points was to craft a theory. It was based on my personal history of observing which films win Best Picture. I call this The Inverse Awesome Theory. 

In short, the more awesome a movie is, the less likely it is to win Best Picture. 

It's important to note that awesomeness in this case is objective criteria, not a subjective assessment of quality. Awesomeness is what you find in summer blockbusters. Car chases and special effects and Tom Cruise dangling from wires. In other words, fun. If you go to the movies to have a fun time, and ranked them accordingly, the inverse is how likely it is to win Best Picture. You get the point. 

I was able to eliminate Room, Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies solely on their position in the chart. The #5 ranked film was The Martian, a thoroughly fun film that felt more like a summer blockbuster than the trailer would lead you to believe. I knew this had no chance. 

#4 was Mad Max: Fury Road, arguably the most awesome/fun movie released in 2015. There was no chance in hell this was going to win. I would have believed Room or Brooklyn had a better shot. 

#3 was Spotlight. At the time I didn't know anything about it other than the title. I'll come back to this. 

#2 was The Big Short. I saw the trailer and wanted to go see over it Christmas break, but didn't have time. Based on the trailer, it seemed pretty funny. It had Steve Carell in it. While not as awesome as Mad Max, it seemed like a fun time. I eliminated this from the possibility. 

#1 was The Revenant. This had 2.29 points compared to 1.71 for Spotlight. I knew from the trailer that this seemed pretty artsy, based on the director and the cinematography. But I also knew that DiCaprio was attacked by a bear. That seemed pretty awesome. Again, I didn't know anything about Spotlight other than the title, but it seemed like The Revenant was more awesome because it had more bear attacks. So I posted that Spotlight would win Best Picture. 

- - - 

The next day I was telling our editor my theory and he tells me what Spotlight is about. And I immediately know I'm going to be right. A movie about journalism heroes exposing child molesters may be a quality film, but it is certainly not going to be awesome.