Sunday, November 12, 2017

State of Sports

CHIEFS. They started the season 5-0 and there was actually Alex Smith MVP talk. But now they're 6-3 along with the Titans and Jags. The optimist would look at how their schedule eases up after the bye and could see a path to 13-3 or 12-4 and getting a playoff bye. A pessimist could see them dropping more games and ending up 9-7. Still, fun season, fun games.

ILLINI BASKETBALL. The Underwood era kicked off by the Illini scoring 100. Mr. Basketball Mark Smith is actually really good at basketball. He's a freshman. The starting five of Smith, Lucas, Finke, Alstork and Black is really strong. Goals: make the tournament this year. Sweet 16 in 2018-2019. Final Four in 2019-2020.

AVALANCHE. Had a surprising 4-1 start to the season but cooled off. The big news is they finally traded Matt Duchene. Sucks because he's an awesome guy and was my favorite player. They allegedly got a good return but I never think you're going to be better by trading away the best player. What it really means is that they're even more years away from being competitive. Although Duchene didn't prevent them from being the worst in the league last year so I understand trying to rebuild. I don't think the coach is the answer it will probably be 5+ years before this team wins a playoff series. Will Landeskog or MacKinnon ever win a series in Colorado?

ILLINI FOOTBALL. They're bad. Lovie was a great hire, but he's not a miracle worker. They'll get better but it's still a sport dominated by the blue-blood programs. In 10 years, Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois will still be bad. ALionEye thinks in the fall of 2019 that Michigan-Illinois will be a big national game, we'll see.

USMNT. And just when you think that there couldn't be a team doing worse than Illinois football...in the 2015 Gold Cup they lose to Jamaica, didn't even make the finals. Since They won the previous Gold Cup there was a special playoff vs Mexico to see who would represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup. USMNT would lose that as well. In 2016, they had a decent showing at the Copa America, finishing 4th. But then the wheels came off and they didn't qualify for the 2018 World Cup. (For what it's worth Mexico finished 4th at the Confederations Cup.)

And my Calcutta roster is strong and fantasy is doing well. I won the fantasy title this year, so it's all gravy from here on out.

Illinois Basketball: Underwood Era Begins

I'm going to start with a little research/analysis.

Illinois actually had some good starts during the Groce era. The best was in 2012-13, when the Illini went 12-0 including winning the Maui invitational and a road win against #10 Gonzaga.

In 2014-15 they started 6-0 and were #1 in scoring through the first couple weeks.

So the question I want answered is: does a good start or non-conference translate to end of the year success?

- - -

(For the rest of this I'm going to use the fall number year for ease of use.)

Groce was coach for 5 years. 2012-2016.

2012 - NCAA 2nd round
2013 - NIT
2014 - NIT
2015 - nothing
2016 - NIT

First of all yikes. But let's see if the starts can tell us anything.

Here's the non-conference schedule:

2012: 13-1
2013: 11-2
2014: 10-3
2015: 8-5
2016: 10-3

So based only on that, yeah it seems like if you have 5 losses, don't make any postseason plans. And if you want to go to the tournament, try not to lose more than one non-conference game.

Let's go deeper to the conference records.

2012: 8-10
2013: 7-11
2014: 9-9
2015: 5-13
2016: 8-10

Surprisingly, this data tells you less than the non-conference data. Looking at that there's no way to think that 2012 was the only NCAA appearance.

So...let's go Underwood! These games actually matter!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Chiefs-Cowboys: insta-reaction

So here's what this means. The Chiefs are going to be the 3rd seed.

I know, there's another 9 games to be played. Way too early. But I believe this.

The Chiefs will win their division. They will have a better record than the AFC South winner. And looking at the Patriots + Steelers schedules, I think it's going to be hard for the Chiefs to pass them after losing 3 of their last 4.

(I mean it's still possible for the Chiefs to grab the top seed or miss the playoffs entirely, but let's go with this.)

So if it's Pats-Steelers 1-2 in some order, that means the Chiefs don't get a bye. They get a home playoff game but on wild-card weekend against the 6 seed. That could be an annoying game but let's assume they win.

They have to go on the road to Heinz Field or Gillette. That's a loss. Even if they pull off a miracle, they have to go to the top seed on the road the week after.

So yeah, this Chiefs team isn't winning the Super Bowl. The path to winning was getting a bye and getting only one of the Patriots/Steelers AND facing them at home. That's out the window. So...sucks.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Doing the Math

Having just introduced my Point Differential in Losses metric, I thought it would be worthwhile to test it out.

I'm going to compare it to wins and standard point differential over the last three games of the year for the last three years, to see which metric is a better predictor in the playoffs. For each game, I'll state if the particular metric correctly predicted the winner.


2016
Pittsburgh vs New England
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Green Bay vs Atlanta
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Atlanta vs New England
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: no

(Editor's Note: so my metric looks a lot cooler if Atlanta doesn't blow a 28-3 lead, just saying. Pretty interesting that the Falcons in 5 losses had less PDwL than the Patriots did in two.)


2015

New England vs Denver
Wins: N/A tied
PD: no
PDwL: N/A tied

Carolina vs Arizona
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Carolina vs Denver
Wins: no
PD: no
PDwL: no

2014
New England vs Indianapolis
Wins: yes
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

Green Bay vs Seattle
Wins: N/A tied
PD: yes
PDwL: yes

New England vs Seattle
Wins: N/A tied
PD: yes
PDwL: no


(Editor's Note: Goddamnit. The Patriots win 2 Super Bowls in three years that they shouldn't have and it ruins my metric. Fuck.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Advanced NFL Metrics

I came up with a new stat: Point Differential in Losses. It rewards wins and close losses, punishes big losses. You don't get credit for blowing out bad teams, but it does punish the bad teams. Take the recent game where the Ravens beat the Dolphins by 40. The Ravens aren't that good (before that game they had a -18 point differential). So instead of acting like they're really a +22 team now, let's just punish the Dolphins for being shitty.

There is one caveat, if you've only played 7 games, you're at an advantage to a team that's played 8 games. So I'll put an asterisk by the 7 game teams. If you see an asterisk, you probably want to mentally move them down a slot or two.

Here's the current standings (after week 8).

Eagles 7
Chiefs 7
Bills 10*
Rams 13*
Seahawks 14*
Patriots 18
Lions 23*
Vikings 24

Falcons 25*
Saints 26*
Steelers 27
Chargers 29
Packers 33*
Jaguars 34*
Cowboys 34*
Texans 36*

Panthers 40
Bengals 43*
Bucs 44*
Washington 46*
Jets 49
Broncos 54*
Raiders 57
Giants 57*

Titans 59*
Bears 60
Ravens 65
Dolphins 74*
Cardinals 81*
Browns 83
49ers 86
Colts 110

Booking the NFL Championship Games

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Seahawks at Eagles

Patriots at Chiefs

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chiefs Spook Broncos on MNF: I Was There

Before the season if you had to pick one game to go to, it would be Broncos on Monday Night Football. Because of the way the season has gone, it became the most important game of the year so far--division race up for grabs, homefield race in the balance, divisional rival, primetime, all of it.

On Friday, I find out I'm getting tickets.

- - -

Quick aside, the tickets included access to a VIP Tailgate. Ryan and I show up and they're serving beef lasagna. So in case you're wondering, that's how VIPs roll.

Due to the beef lasagna and the ridiculous parking line and the ridiculous line to get in (note to self: only go in a express line at the gate) we were running through the concourse and entered section 108 at exactly the first play from scrimmage. It was actually amazing to be running down the steps and hear the crowd ramped the fuck up just as we see the field for the first time.



The game opened with two punts and then it was Jamaal Charles time. First play for him he gets past the line of scrimmage and there's only one man to beat. Ron Parker tackles him by the shoestrings and saves a touchdown. Game of inches man. Could have been 7-0 Broncos very easily. Instead, two plays later Marcus Peters strips Charles, recovers the fumble and returns it to the house. One man play right there. 7-0 Chiefs.

Three minutes later the Chiefs score again. They force a 3 and out and go 68 yards, including a big TD pass to Kelce. It's 14-0 with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter. Arrowhead is rocking. Both Chiefs touchdowns happened in the corner right in front of me.

Very Next Play. Interception. Peters with another big play. Chiefs have 1st and goal from the 9, just 11 minutes into the game. I said out loud, "got to cash this in." And the Chiefs decide to go for a trick play, Tyreek Hill throwing it to Ross Travis. Tyreek Hill now has more interceptions this season than Alex Smith. (1-0.)

Not only do the Chiefs squander a scoring opportunity, but this gives the Broncos momentum as they respond with the best drive of their game. They go down the field and have 1st and goal at the 9. It's only 14-0 with lots of time left...but Justin Houston comes through with a Big Mac Sack and ensures the Broncos settle for a field goal. 14-3.

Chiefs have another nice drive but settle for a field goal. 17-3. The teams would trade turnovers but that's the score at the half.

The entire rest of the game, I'm still thinking about that stupid trick play.

The Broncos would find some signs of life in the 3rd quarter and scored a TD to cut the Chiefs lead to 20-13 headed into the 4th quarter.

In the 4th, the Chiefs had a 43 yard field goal. It's a chill night with lots of swirling wind and it seemed like kickoffs had been short all night. Make it and it's a 10-point lead. Miss it and the Broncos have good field position to drive and tie the game. Harrison Butker makes it. (He now has a streak of 18-straight field goals after missing his first NFL field goal.)

With 10 minutes to go, it's 4th and 4 for the Broncos at their 48. They're going for it. I'm a little surprised with a full 10 minutes left, but here we are. They're pushing their chips in the middle. And the Chiefs shut it down.

Goddamn that felt great.

The Chiefs would add two more field goals and the Broncos would get a garbage time TD but it was never close after that. Final 29-19.

With a team like the Broncos, it was very nice to not leave any doubt about who played better. There was no whining about calls or anything they could say. The Chiefs took the lead on the Charles/Peters scoop and score and never looked back.

Here's a nice image to sum up the Broncos performance.


Surprisingly that was not after one of the Broncos 5 turnovers.

Here are pictures of the two Chiefs touchdowns.



And last but not least, I get to cross off the Broncos!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

History of Attending Chiefs Games

Childhood Era
11.4.1990: 9-7 win vs. L.A. Raiders (Bo Jackson)
10.11.1992: 24-17 win vs Eagles (Cunningham)

2004
Coming off a 13-3 season, I bought a pair of tickets through ticketmaster in the offseason. The Chiefs started 0-3 and by the time we were going to the game, the Chiefs were 3-7. Our seats were section 343, row 10 and they were $73 each. That game featured Brees, Tomlinson, Gates, Trent Green, Larry Johnson, Gonzalez. Plus a kickoff TD return by Dante Hall, and another that should have been. Although Priest Holmes was injured earlier in the year, and I didn't get to see him play.

11.24.04: loss vs Chargers, 31-34

2005
The following year was our first year in Chicago. We made plans to spend New Year's in Kansas City and see the Chiefs finish the season on New Year's Day. The Chiefs were 4-2 at the time we purchased the tickets. I got the tickets through ebay, section 301, row 5, $70 each. This was Vermeil's last game. It was a good season. The Bengals didn't try much and it was a blowout win. The Chiefs finished 10-6 but didn't make the playoffs. The Steelers finished 10-6, got the wild-card spot on tiebreakers, and won the Super Bowl.

1.1.06: win vs Bengals, 37-3


2007
In August, I found a great deal on lower bowl seats through a private seller. Section 122, row 10 for $90 each. Trent Green was traded, so Damon Huard was the starter. Bowe was a rookie. The Chiefs were 2-2 coming into the game, but 1-0 at home. They would lose this game, win the next two to get to 4-3, before finishing 4-12. MJD had a 52-yard TD run and it was 17-0 Jaguars, before Croyle came in for a garbage time TD in the rain. Here's the post.

10.7.07: loss vs Jaguars, 7-17


2010
The Chiefs are 3-0, which means the wife is on the bandwagon! We just got tickets through NFL.com Ticket Exchange, section 301, row 28, $64 each, to see the Chiefs host the Cardinals on the day before my birthday. Not only do the Cardinals seem quite beatable on the road, but you have to think that Haley will have extra incentive and know how to beat his old team. Here's the post.

11.21.10: win vs Cardinals, 31-13

2014

We got two tickets through Crowd Seats, Section 324, Row 28, $48 each. It was part of a 24-hour trip. Here's the post.

10.26.14: win vs Rams, 34-7


2016

First time I went to a game by myself. First night game! First time seeing the Raiders since 1990. I paid $74 on StubHub for Section 324, Row 28, Seat 5. And I froze my ass off--zero degrees. Here's the post from the game.

12.8.16: win vs Raiders, 21-13


2017

I got a free ticket through work. First MNF game! First game against the Broncos! Section 108, Row 27, Seat 6. Here's the post from the game.

10.30.16: win vs Broncos, 29-19


Current Record of All-Time Games In Person: 7-2




I really prefer sitting between the 30s than in the corner or endzone. Sitting in the upper deck is fine but I'd rather be in the first 20 rows.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wide Open NFL

So here's something. On the NFL opening night, the Chiefs beat the Patriots. The Chiefs also started 5-0. That's good!

And yet, since opening night, the Chiefs have gone 4-2. The Patriots have gone 5-1.

The Steelers barely squeaked by the Browns and lost to the Bears and Jaguars. And yet they're 5-2 also.



The Chiefs loss to the Steelers was not surprising. The loss to the Raiders really wasn't that surprising either because the Raiders are supposed to be good and divisional games on the road, especially on a short week, should never be considered a gimme. (These days, no game is a gimme, so nothing should surprise us.)

But when you look at those three teams tied at 5-2, it doesn't matter what's surprising, it only matters what's in the win column. The bye is huge. And while playing at Arrowhead doesn't even get close to guaranteeing a win, having to go to Heinz or Gillette in January is an absolute disaster. The Chiefs do hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots and that's still what you'd rather have, but the Steelers hold it over the Chiefs. Pittsburgh and New England will play each other on December 17 at the Steelers.

You look at the Steelers schedule and not a lot of tough opponents. Packers minus Rodgers. Colts, Titans, Bengals, Ravens, Browns. Their toughest game in the next 6 is going on the road to Detroit.

So here I am. I really really need the Lions to beat the Steelers. Of course, most of all, I need the Chiefs to win their next game...

Let's see, what's that going to be...


Oh nothing really, just a Monday Night Football game at Arrowhead against the 2nd best team in the division, the team I hate the most. A primetime nationally televised home game the night before Halloween. Where if the Chiefs lose, they lose all the momentum in the division. But if they win, they'd have a huge divisional lead. Oh man. That's the thing about winning big games. The more you win, the bigger the games get. Opening night was a big win and it just makes this game even bigger.

- - -

Oh and the Packers, Panthers and Falcons all look like shit. The Vikes are #2 in the NFC and they don't have a QB. The Seahawks have struggled. So the best teams are the Eagles with Wentz and the Rams with Goff...This really does feel like the NFL is as wide open as it's ever been.

For a team with Alex Smith or Matthew Stafford, you only get so many chances where the Bradys and Rodgers of the worlds aren't dominating. Gotta make them count.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Only two teams with one loss. Chiefs and Eagles. They already played each other. Could play each other again in the Andy Reid Super Bowl. 


Who Owns The Strip?

There are 27 major resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. So many choices, right?

Sure. But 19 out of 27 are owned by just 2 companies. Here's a breakdown of who owns what resorts.

MGM Resorts
MGM Grand
Luxor 
Excalibur
Aria
Bellagio
Circus Circus
Mandalay Bay
Mirage
Monte Carlo
New York New York
Delano
Vdara

Caesars Entertainment
Flamingo
Caesars Palace
Paris
Bally's
Harrah's
Linq
Planet Hollywood

Wynn Resorts
Wynn
Encore

Las Vegas Sands Inc
Venetian
Palazzo

The Blackstone Group
Cosmopolitan

Phil Ruffin
Treasure Island

American Casino & Entertainment
Stratosphere

Penn National Gaming
Tropicana

- - -

Here are the 27 resorts, ranked by number of Hotel Rooms, labeled if part of one of the two conglomerations.

MGM Grand - MGM Resorts
Luxor - MGM Resorts
Venetian 
Excalibur - MGM Resorts
Aria - MGM Resorts
Bellagio - MGM Resorts
Circus Circus - MGM Resorts
Flamingo - Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Palace - Caesars Entertainment
Mandalay Bay - MGM Resorts
Palazzo
Mirage - MGM Resorts
Monte Carlo - MGM Resorts
Cosmopolitan
Paris - Caesars Entertainment
Treasure Island
Bally's - Caesars Entertainment
Wynn
Harrah's - Caesars Entertainment
Linq - Caesars Entertainment
Planet Hollywood - Caesars Entertainment
Stratosphere
Encore
New York New York - MGM Resorts
Vdara - MGM Resorts
Tropicana
Delano - MGM Resorts

- - -

So the answer is...MGM Resorts owns the Strip.



Monday, October 09, 2017

Quest for Homefield

I have to start this post by acknowledging that the Chiefs were the #2 seed in the AFC last year and had a home game against the Steelers and lost. So you could look at that and conclude playing at home isn't a big deal. Well, for starters, that was a 2-point game that ended with the Chiefs completing a 2-point conversion, only to see it called back to a holding penalty. And more convincingly, the Patriots were the #1 seed and got to face their Houston Texans with Brock Osweiler. So yeah, getting the #1 seed and homefield matters. For the last four years, the #4 seed has been from the AFC South.

(This year, anything could happen. The Patriots and Steelers and Jags are all 3-2. It's entirely possible that the Chiefs could earn the coveted #1 seed and the Pats or Steelers could be #4. But for the sake of discussion, let's assume that #1 is still clearly the best possible outcome as you are ensured you won't play on the road and you get the opponents with the worst record.)

In the race for homefield, the Chiefs are 2.5 games ahead of the Patriots after 5 weeks. I say this because KC beat NE and therefore has a tiebreaker. That's huge.

If the Chiefs beat the Steelers this week, they will be 3.5 games ahead of the Steelers.
If they lose... only half a game ahead. (5-1 vs 4-2 with the tiebreaker edge).

Since this game is worth 1.5 games in the homefield standings, it's a 3-game swing.

So yep, big game. And it happens to be at Arrowhead. Chiefs are favored by 4.

Garbage Time

I drafted Kirk Cousins to be my every week fantasy starter. During the draft, I wanted a backup for injury that could be a starter, but also someone that I knew I would play in week 5, when Cousins is on bye. I saw Big Ben had the Jaguars at home and thought this was perfect.

Who knew that Jaguars would turn out to be an elite pass D after four weeks? I was tempted to stick with Big Ben despite his struggles because of the whole thing where he's a lot better at home than on the road...but then Deshaun Watson emerged as a real fantasy star. So I grabbed him with on the waiver wire as my first priority.

I figured Chiefs are decent against the pass but struggle against the run and give up lots of yards no matter what. So a running QB would give them fits, he could get 10 points just in rushing. So I plugged in Watson.

Big Ben vs Jaguars: 2 points
Watson vs Chiefs: 45 points

The Chiefs-Texans game was basically over at 39-20 with 7 minutes to go, but Watson managed to get me two more touchdowns in the final 3 minutes to win me $15.

I also appreciate Fournette's 90-yard touchdown run over the Steelers in garbage time. Garbage time is amazing.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Did Cleveland Peak Too Early?

I heard something on Against All Odds, that didn't seem quite right to me.

In September, Cleveland went on a 22-game winning streak. A Yankees fan on the podcast said Cleveland peaked too early. Me, being of sound mind and body, thought that winning 22 games in September is a good sign for winning say 12 out of 21 games in October.

So here we are. Cleveland vs New York.

My theory is Cleveland should win.
His theory is New York should win.

Let's see what happens.

Edit: Damnit, Cleveland peaked too early.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Results

Last week I wanted to compare teasers to individual bets.

I went 4-1 on individual games
3-2 on 2-team teasers
2-3 on 3-team teasers


Small sample size of course, but does seem to show that adding more teams is NOT worth the extra points you get from teasing the lines. This week it was the Patriots and Cowboys not winning when heavily favored and Dolphins who couldn't cover a 13-point spread that screwed me. But when you're throwing that many teams in, every week there will be surprises.

With the vig, if you bet $100, you get $90.90 back.

So this week, if I would have bet $100 on each game:

Individual Games: +263.60
2-team teasers: +72.70
3-team teasers: -118.20


If you add it all up, it's still ahead $218.10.



Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Figuring out the NFC

I'll admit right up front I care a lot more about the AFC (obvious Chiefs bias) and therefore probably know a lot more about the AFC. But let's take a crack at the NFC anyways. 



49ers, Giants, Bears you're done. That leaves 13 teams separated by only 1 game. Damn.

I'll go ahead and eliminate the Cardinals, just don't trust them.

The teams I do trust? Falcons and Packers. Panthers with an impressive win in Foxboro.

So if I count those three in, that leaves 9 teams fighting for 3 spots.

Eagles, Lions, Rams, Bucs, Vikings, Cowboys, Washington, Saints, Seahawks.

Let's give the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt because of past history and cross off the Vikings because of injuries.

Washington looked like a really good team last night. I know they're 2-2 but I think they make it.

6 teams for the last spot.

Eagles, Lions, Rams, Bucs, Cowboys, Saints.

Oof, that's really tough. Any of those teams could make it. Lots of decent to strong teams out there with only a few stinkers. I'll say the Cowboys but don't feel great about it.

1 Falcons
2 Packers
3 Seahawks
4 Washington
5 Panthers
6 Cowboys

Figuring Out The AFC

We're one-fourth of the way through the season and the AFC is pretty interesting, to me at least. 



We're not using to seeing the Patriots sitting outside the the playoff projections.
This week, the Texans looked like the best team in the league, and they're sitting outside the playoff projections.

Something's going to give.

- - -

Let's start from the bottom.

Browns, Chargers, Bengals, Colts, Dolphins are done. They're bad, with bad records, and just way too many good teams.

The Jets have the same record as the Patriots, but I'm still writing off the Jets.

That leaves 10 AFC teams for 6 Playoff spots.

Raiders...they're 2-2 with a tough schedule and Derek Carr is going to be out with an injury. I know they could still make the playoffs, but I'm betting against it. Because of the injury...I'm counting them out. Let's sort the remaining 9 by division.

Chiefs
Broncos

Texans
Titans
Jags

Steelers
Ravens

Bills
Patriots


The Ravens wins are over the Bengals and the Browns.
The Jags beat the Texans and the Ravens.

Based on that, I'm kicking the Ravens out.

So I've got three solid in:

Patriots
Steelers
Chiefs

That leaves 3 spots for these 5 teams:

Broncos
Bills
Texans/Titans/Jags

One of the AFC South teams has to make it and I'm thinking Texans win the division with Watson.

So now two more playoff teams from:

Broncos
Bills
Titans
Jags

Broncos and Bills already have a one game advantage on the Titans and Jags.

So let's go with this:

1 Chiefs
2 Patriots
3 Steelers
4 Texans
5 Broncos
6 Bills

Glad we figured that out. I'll come back to this in January.

- - -

Oh and by the way, Chiefs already played the Patriots. They go on the road to Houston this week. Back home for the Steelers. Then on the road 4 days later for a Thursday game in Oakland. Which does give them 11 days to prepare for the Broncos on Monday Night Football. That's a rough stretch. Chiefs also will play the Bills and Broncos again. So based on my projections, I've got the Chiefs playing 6 games against the 5 other AFC playoff teams.

Getting the playoff bye is huge. Having home field advantage is huge. That's why every game is crucial. Especially a game like the Steelers. Having that tiebreaker could determine which team gets a bye or which team gets home field.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Are you teasing me?

A quick recap of my week 1 picks:

I won on Ravens +3 and Lions +2  and Panthers -5 but lost on Steelers -9.5 because the Browns were better than expected. My Chiefs +9 pick doesn't count, something about that I posted it after they already won. 3-1, not bad.

- - -

Just for fun, I thought I would try some 2-team teasers and 3-team teasers and compare how they do against individual bets. 2-team teaser swings the lines by 7 points but both have to win. 3-team swings by 10, all three have to win. I'd do 5 of each and see which does the best.


Individual Games
Eagles +1.5 WIN
Bucs -3 LOSS
Saints -3 WIN
Jets +3.5 WIN
49ers +7 WIN

2-TEAM
Packers PK and Chiefs PK WIN
Seahawks -6 and Patriots -2 LOSS
Eagles +8.5 and Saints +4 WIN
Cowboys +.5 and Ravens +10 LOSS
49ers + 14 and Jets +10.5 WIN

3-TEAM
Falcons +2 and Browns +13 and Patriots +1 LOSS
Chiefs +3 and Seahawks -3 and Ravens +13 WIN
49ers +17 and Jets +13.5 and Saints +7 WIN
Packers +3 and Patriots +1 and Chiefs +3 LOSS
Dolphins +13 and Falcons +2 and Eagles +11.5 LOSS



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chiefs 24-6 in their last 30

So I'm thinking about how the Chiefs stack up against the other good teams in the league. Just beat the Patriots on the road this year. Beat the Falcons on the road last year. Beat the Panthers on the road last year. Beat the 2-1 Eagles this year. Swept the Raiders and Broncos last year. Last time the Chiefs played the Seahawks, the Chiefs won in 2014 when Seattle went to the Super Bowl.

You go down the list and the Chiefs have come out on top a lot lately. So I looked it up over their last 30 games, including the playoffs, the Chiefs are 24-6.

In that stretch here are the teams that have beaten them: Steelers twice, Titans, Bucs, Texans, Patriots.

Titans, Bucs and Texans were all close games that don't scare me. But the Steelers and facing the Pats in the Playoffs? I'd prefer not to have to play either of them.

The Steelers come to Arrowhead on October 15. It will be interesting to see if the Chiefs can conquer their Pittsburgh demons.




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

QB First Contract Super Bowl Window

"Super Bowl Window" is a phrase thrown around to describe when a NFL team has a collection of good players in their prime and how long they can keep them together at a high level.

The Seattle Seahawks won a Super Bowl through a very specific blueprint. They drafted a great quarterback and paid him peanuts, enabling the team to pay for great players around him, specifically on defense. Russell Wilson entered the NFL in 2012 on a 4-year contract.

This morning, thinking about this, I had 2 questions.
1. What did his First Contract Super Bowl Window look like?
2. Did he get/need playoff experience?

In 2012, they were good out of the gate. 11-5 record. They went to the playoffs and Wilson started 2 playoff games on the road, going 1-1.

In 2013, they were even better. 13-3 and 3-0 in the playoffs, winning the Super Bowl.

In 2014, 12-4, returned to the Super Bowl and really should have won it again.

In 2015, not as good, 10-6 and lost to the Panthers in the Super Bowl.


His contract extension became active in 2016, they still won 10 games and made the playoffs losing to the Falcons.

If my theory was perfect, you would have seen a larger drop off from 2015 to 2016. But the larger point stands, that drafting a Pro Bowl QB and not paying him much, is a great start to building a Super Bowl contender.

- - -

The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes this year and signed him to a 4-year contract for

2017
2018
2019
2020

(Teams have a fifth-year option, but because he was a top-10 pick, that option would be very expensive and no better financially than a contract extension.)

So there you go. The Chiefs best chance to win a Super Bowl in my lifetime is the next 4 years. In 2018, Alex Smith has to go and ideally would be replaced with immediate-impact players on the defense.

Of course, if Alex Smith goes and leads the 2017 Chiefs to a Super Bowl win, we'll take that too.





Friday, September 08, 2017

The Return of All Things Right

Edit: This post was originally written September 5, 2008 in Chicago. It was updated for the first time since then on September 8, 2017. I still own the grill pan that I reference in 2006 but have not used it. since then. I have transferred from an apartment to a condo to an apartment to a house to an apartment to an apartment to a house.

This morning I woke up and felt the instinctive urge to be in Kansas City. The weather was rainy, and a bit chilly, and as if the weather was taking it's cues from the NFL, fall had arrived. And nothing seemed more perfect than getting some barbecue and walking into Arrowhead.

Alas, I'm not in Kansas City. In fact, neither are the Chiefs. And I won't be eating any barbecue. But, like birds migrating south, I can feel it inside me: football is back.

I have fond memories of every Chief's opening day since senior year (the dovetail of the Chiefs being good, fantasy football's introduction to our lives, and our football rituals in our apartment.)

2004 at Broncos

Priest Holmes was still tearing it up. LJ had just been drafted and didn't get to see any action. This was a Sunday night game and I remember being pumped all day. Plummer even threw a left handed interception. Good times. Except for Quentin Griffin went for 156 and 3 tds. This season he tore his ACL and is now in the CFL. Denver 34-24.

2005 vs Jets

This was the first Chief's game I saw in Chicago, and I remember watching it at what was then Brittany's apartment, which is now our apartment. The Jets fumbled like 7 times, and both Holmes and Johnson had monster games. The Chief's should have had a shutout, but allowed a garbage time TD. Good game. Chiefs 27-7.

2006 vs Bengals

Ah, the beginning of the Herm Edwards era. This was the first football game post-wedding. I was trying out, for the first time, grilling a raw burger on my cast-iron grill pan. And I had the Chiefs game on Tivo. Well, my cast-iron pan burned the outside of the meat, and left the inside raw. Our apartment filled with smoke, and it was about the worst burger I've ever tried to eat. When the apartment got smoky, I paused the game. Then later, on fast forward I see that Trent Green just got knocked out. It was not a good day. And I haven't used the grill pan since. Bengals 23-10.

2007 at Texans

This had another ominous start. I knew the game wasn't going to be on tv in Chicago, so I went to the sports bar a few blocks away (The Hunt Club) to watch it on Sunday Ticket. I get there a couple minutes before noon, order a soda, and peruse the menu. Then at noon the games come on, and I can't find the Chiefs/Texans. They have about 10 tv's, and that is the only game not on. I go up to the bar to ask if they can change one, and they said that it's all pre-set. So I pay for the soda and leave. It was probably better off not watching. The freaking Texans beat the Chiefs and it wasn't close. This was not a good day either. Texans 20-3.

2008 at Patriots

So over the last 4 years, the Chiefs are 1-3 in opening day games. And now they get to play on the road at a team that was 10 seconds away from being 19-0. Um...great. Oh well. At least I won't fill the apartment with smoke. Update: Down goes Brady. Down goes Croyle. And still the Chiefs almost won. But not quite. Chiefs lose to Cassel's Pats 17-10.

2009 at Ravens

This was my first Chiefs season in Oak Park. Cassel was on the team but was injured. I had hope. The Chiefs lost 38-24. Croyle fell to 0-9 as a starter. They would finish 4-12 this year.

2010 vs Chargers

This was incredible. I was living in Oak Park but didn't get ESPN, so I came over to Burnsy's apartment on Milwaukee and we watched it together. Awesome game, win 21-14. And as it turns out, the game did ignite a run to the playoffs! I'll always remember this one.

2011 vs Bills

I don't remember this one. This was my first season living in Denver and I had just become a father about 10 days before. I had to look it up. The Bills beat the Chiefs 41-7 and Eric Berry tore his ACL and was out for the year. This is my only recollection. 

2012 vs Falcons

I don't remember this one either. Man. Parenting. This was the first game in our Denver house. Also the Chiefs were real bad. They went 2-14 this year and got beat by the Falcons 40-24 on opening day.

2013 at Jaguars

This one was fun. I remember this one. I was watching at home in Denver with 2 babies. The Chiefs rolled the Jags 28-2. I wrote down these thoughts. This was the start of the Andy Reid/Alex Smith era. Funny how the Chiefs instantly got a whole lot better.

2014 vs Titans

I actually don't remember this one either. A shitty loss to the Titans where Alex Smith was throwing picks and Derrick Johnson was lost for the year. 26-10 Titans.

2015 at Texans

This one I remember! This one was awesome. We were living in Denver and I watched this game over at the Verrettes house on Salford. It featured one of my favorite Kelce highlights ever. Fun fact: I was very high on the Chiefs this year. They proceeded to go on a 5 game losing streak after this, then win all their games and their first playoff game in 22 years. Weird year. Chiefs 27-20.

2016 vs Chargers

Another great one! I was really pissed that the Broncos had lucked into a win on opening night. I have really high hopes for the Chiefs following their playoff win. And they're down 24-3 against the shitty Chargers, a division rival, at home. Christ. And then Alex Smith leads the biggest Chiefs comeback in franchise history. I remember this was the first NFL Sunday in the group Whatsapp chat and it was the last one that I was watching in Denver (thought I didn't know it at the time). Another big win that would lead to a playoff berth. Chiefs 33-27 in OT.

2017 at Patriots

Oh man. Three good starts in a row. 4 out of 5 in the Reid/Smith era. This was my first game living in Kansas City, first in the new man cave in the new house. To go into Foxboro and beat the champs on primetime national TV? Chiefs 42-27. Holy shit.

NFL Season Kickoff

At some point over the last month, I thought I should do another edition of NFL storylines. I thought about doing a full NFL standings predictions...

But all of that seems like a lot of work right now.

Let's do an abbreviated predictions:

AFC

1 Patriots
2 Chiefs
3 Steelers
4 Texans
5 Raiders
6 Ravens
Titans first one out

NFC

1 Seahawks
2 Saints
3 Packers
4 Giants
5 Vikings
6 Cowboys
Panthers first one out

Super Bowl: Seahawks over Chiefs



This week I like

Chiefs +9
Ravens +3
Steelers -9.5
Lions +2
Panthers -5

Chiefs Take Down The Champs

This wasn't a football game. This was a heavyweight bout.

Leading up to it, Collinsworth described the Chiefs as counter-punchers. We knew going into it that it was going to be a tough place to play. The Super Bowl champs opening at home, with the trophies, with the banners, with Mark Wahlberg. Al and Chris said they've never heard Gillette as loud as it was before the game.

And the Patriots came out swinging hard. No huddle down the field, 73 yards in under 3 minutes. It's 7-0.

First Chiefs play of the season, first career snap for Kareem Hunt and he fumbles. Never lost a fumble in 4 years of college.

Patriots are 32 yards from the endzone. 6 plays later, Tom Brady throws a touchdown to Gronk and it's 13-0 before Alex Smith has even thrown a pass.

Except that it wasn't. After the commercial break they take the touchdown away. That leads to a 4th and 1 from the 10.

They're going for it. KC Star writer Terez Paylor calls it disrespectful to go for it. The Chiefs stop them on 4th down and take over at the 10.

The Chiefs counter-punch and go 90 yards for a score with only getting to 3rd down once.

That was a huge sequence. Gronk completes that pass and it's 14-0. But defense steps up and boom, it's 7-7 after the first quarter. The Chiefs stop the bleeding and prove this is going to be a fight.

Next drive ends with a 4th and 1 for the Pats from the 8. The Chiefs have them gunshy and they settle for a field goal. That initial 4th down stop still providing benefits.

But the Patriots get it back after a punt and take a 17-7 lead. And the Chiefs punt again. Just like that it feels inevitable. The Patriots are the Champs. They've scored on 3 out of 4 drives. The Chiefs have only scored on 1 out of 4 drives. To stop them from scoring, we needed a key 4th down stop—you can't count on those.

With 3:44 to go in the first half, the Pats have the ball and could extend their lead before the half. But the Chiefs force their first punt.

The Chiefs now have 2:47 to salvage something. And I've always liked Alex Smith in these situations. I think he's best when he's forced to throw down the field. They quickly chip down the field, picking up key 3rd downs and with 13 seconds left Alex Smith checks down to Kareem Hunt for his first career touchdown.

It's Halftime and it's 17-14 Patriots. The Chiefs just executed a two-minute drill on the road in Foxboro against the Champs. KC gets the ball back to start the second half. The Chiefs hung in there and fought back from the second wave of punches.

Against a normal team, I'd feel reasonably confident. Against the Patriots, just nothing but dread. It still feels inevitable. But at least we didn't get blown out. At least we're not a national laughingstock.

After two punts, the Chiefs start a drive on their own 25 and this happens:


I really can't say enough about this. This feels SO MUCH like a play that I've seen happen over and over without the same result. The one where Alex checks down to RB and then the broadcast shows a replay that he had a wide open Maclin or Kelce or Hill that could have had a score. Or the one where Alex sees an opportunity like this but the pass is a little long or a little short. Or the one where he makes the throw but the ball bounces off a normally sure-handed receiver. I've seen countless variations of the wide open receiver—but I've rarely seen this version.

This is the version where Alex scans left and then continues to scan right where Hill is. When he sees Hill breaking open and doesn't hesitate. He fires it perfectly deep hitting him right in stride. And Hill catches it, oh my goodness he catches it. This is the version where the Chiefs take the lead for the first time. Just wow.

I saw the angle from Alex's point of view (wish I could find it again) and when Alex starts to throw it, Hill is not nearly that open. He's got him beat, but he's basically even with the defender. It's a thing of beauty.

And then, oh by the way, it's 21-17 Chiefs. With 9 minutes to go in the 3rd. It feels great, but I know that 24 minutes of football is an eternity. I expect the Patriots to come back.

The Chiefs lead lasted for 4 minutes. Patriots 24-21 with 5 to go in the 4rd. Damn.

Chiefs go back to back punts. Patriots open a drive with a 54-yard pass to Cooks. This is the 3rd wave of punches from the champ. A touchdown here would make it a two-possession game going into the 4th. Limit them to a field goal and it's only a 6 point game.

Chiefs Red Zone defense comes up huge again. Patriots 27-21. After a penalty it's 1st and 15 from their own 5 for the Chiefs. This feels like a punting situation. But Kareem Hunt goes 13 yards up the middle, gets the team some breathing room. Nice, underrated play. If he doesn't do that, then he can't do this:




Holy shit. Kareem Hunt is my new best friend. Alex Smith is a gunslinger. The Chiefs have counterpunched for the 3rd time. They've retaken the lead.

It's at this point 28-27, where I first thought: "Okay we're in this game. It would really, really suck to get to this point, to have this lead on the road, and have it all be wasted. We need to win this."

Ensuing drive. 3rd and 2, key tackle by Peters/Berry leaves NE with a 4th and 1 from the KC 40. They have to go for it. They try to run it like they did back in the first quarter. The Chiefs defense stops them again. The same defense that on the opening drive couldn't stop anything, is now a stone wall.

After exchanging punts, Chiefs get the ball and go to work. Short passes, deep passes, it's all working. They score again. I wish they would have gone for 2 to try and put it out reach, but they kick the extra point and it's 35-27 with 5 minutes to go.

At this point, having seen three waves of punches from the champs, I thought there was a 99% chance that Brady goes down the field and scores a touchdown.

First play of the drive is the first sack of the game for the Chiefs. #BigMacSack. Houston beats the edge rush and finally gets home on Brady.

Chiefs force a punt and get the ball back with 4 minutes to go. Still nervous. Need to close it out.

So the Chiefs run the ball twice for 79 yards and go up 42-27. Is this real life?

Like can I start celebrating yet? Holy shit.

The Chiefs sack Brady twice more on the final drive and get to victory formation.

The game is over.

Can I stop being nervous now?

- - -

For the record, there were two times this decade where the teams involved in the kickoff game reached the Super Bowl.

In 2013, the Broncos beat the Ravens on opening night. The Broncos would end up reaching the Super Bowl, but losing.

In 2014, the Seahawks beat the Packers on opening night. The Seahawks would end up reaching the Super Bowl, but losing.

So that's not exactly as exciting as I would have hoped, but...based on this alone, it seems more likely that the Chiefs would reach the SB than the Patriots, so I'll take it.

- - -

Here are some random fun stats:


The 4th Quarter by Pats was reverse of Super Bowl: 4 drives, 2 first downs, 0 points. Outscored 21-0.

The Patriots were 81-0 at Gillette when leading at half during the regular season before last night (95-1 when including playoffs).

42 points is the most allowed by the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era.

The Chiefs have won 7 straight road games, including wins over all 4 teams from the last 2 Super Bowls (CAR, DEN, ATL, NE)

Players with 300+ pass yards, 4+ passing TD and 0 INT against a Bill Belichick defense: Drew Brees (2009), Alex Smith (tonight)

Kareem Hunt has set an NFL record for yards from scrimmage in the first game of a career with 246.

Alex Smith last 2 games vs. New England (48 of 61 for 616 YDS 7TD 0 INT.)

- - -

Chiefs Offense in the Red Zone: 3 times = 3 touchdowns

Chiefs Defense in the Red Zone: 6 times = 3 touchdowns, 2 fg, 1 turnover on downs


- - -




- - -


It's easy to start thinking just about the emotional part. The opening night national TV win, coming back against the Patriots who spent the offseason rubbing it in the Falcons faces...

But this is a huge win for the season.

For starters of course, the Chiefs are 1-0 and have a few extra days to practice for their next game. They already got a road win, in the hardest game on the schedule. Plus, it's a tiebreaker against the Patriots that could easily impact the playoffs. It's not even ridiculous to think that the AFC Championship could be these two teams and because of this game (maybe both finish 12-4) that game is at Arrowhead because of Week 1. Holy crap.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lemon Pepper Wet

So first I saw the scene in FX's Atlanta.
Then I heard Rembert on House of Carbs. And found Rembert's article.
So tonight when I saw Lemon Pepper at Buffalo Wild Wings I ordered it.
Then I came home and watched the Binging with Babish on it.

Now I have a lot to say about Lemon Pepper.



I'm pretty sure that tonight was my first time eating Lemon Pepper seasoning in any form. It's great. I wouldn't be writing about it if it wasn't. But my Lemon Pepper Dry at BWW had two clear flaws.

First, wings are better wet. These were crunchy which is good, but too crunchy. All crunch not enough flavor. The texture is just off.

Second, lemon pepper, like any seasoning, needs to stick to something wet/sticky. It's obvious, sure. If they were fresh coming out of the fryer, you'd get some decent seasoning to stick, but if you wait a minute, not much is going to stick. I had a huge pile of lemon pepper left over at the bottom of my plate. (Which I then dipped my Jerk wings and fries in—both were great.)

I also noticed flaws in Babish's preparation as far as I'm concerned. For one batch he tossed the the wings in lemon pepper dry and then coated with buffalo sauce. This may be authentic, but I'd flip it. Toss the wings in buffalo sauce, get them sticky, and then hit them with the lemon pepper.

His second batch he added dry seasoning directly to the wings, then added butter and tossed. Which I feel like would sort of work. Again, flipping it would get more of a coating...but there's a huge missed opportunity. He peeled lemon zest and did all this stuff to make his own lemon pepper seasoning. Instead of doing all that work to get to a dry powder, why not create one lemon pepper sauce from the beginning. Something with lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, olive oil, garlic and lots of black pepper would make a killer wing sauce. (Or the lazy way would be to melt some butter and stir in lemon pepper seasoning.)

So here's what I'm thinking moving forward. I'm going to pick up some lemon pepper. I imagine being able to season cut up chicken for tacos and other things.

Next time at Buffalo Wild Wings I might get some medium or hot wings and ask for lemon pepper on the side so I can coat how I want to.

Some day I should try to at least make the lazy version of lemon pepper sauce.

EDIT: So 12 hours later, I made some Lemon Pepper Wings 2 ways.

I wasn't trying to impress anybody, I just wanted some quick lemon pepper wings. So I bought some frozen Friday's ready to eat buffalo wings. Microwaved them up. Half of them I just sprinked generously with the dry lemon pepper seasoning. Because they were fresh out of the microwave, they were soft, sticky, ready for seasoning to adhere. The other half I wiped with paper towels and made a quick lemon pepper butter sauce and coated them.

The butter sauce ones looked better.

As for the taste, they were both really great, but the butter sauced ones tasted like too much butter. A little too greasy. Turns out adding lemon pepper to buffalo wings is fantastic, much better than adding it to bone dry wings.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Solar Eclipse - August 21, 2017

So the two best photos I took of the eclipse weren't that great:



But the cool thing about the internet is that I don't need to take a great picture myself. I can just find and enjoy the best pictures from all over. 








Sunday, August 06, 2017

Best Seats I've Ever Had at a Royals Game

I got free tickets through a production company and they were awesome. Before the game, I walked around the stadium.




And then I found the seats. Section 129, Row P. Incredible. They even have waiter service.


Pub nachos.



Royals won 6-4, a comeback win, their only win in their last 5 games. Sweet.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017 Master Kansas City Barbecue List

I like the idea of a master BBQ list that I can continually update, but I also like the ability to look back at previous lists. So I'll leave the 2016 post as is, and this will be a flexible document throughout 2017.

Previous Years:
2016


_________________________________________

Places I've Been


1. Q39



Visited their original location (on 39th street) on 7/15/16. Brisket and ribs were both killer. They're opening a second location that just happens to be minutes from my apartment. Weird.

Went back for the first time as a resident on 2/4/17. Ordered the appetizer labeled: best wings on the planet. Also, got the brisket/burnt end plate, fries and beans. First time having their burnt ends. Wings were good but nothing that special.



The burnt ends are really great, brisket is good. Beans weren't my favorite. I feel good about having Q39 in the top spot now, but there are a couple of cons. There's always a wait, it's pricey. Parking is tight. Only one sauce on the table and isn't as good as Char Bar's.


Just ordered a half rack of ribs for the first time, (3/23/17 carryout):


SO GOOD. SO MANY! I couldn't even at them all. Saved a big one for later. Fries were good, beans still not that good. I guess I should stop ordering the beans. But damn. 1/2 Rack is a great freaking order.

Took my Mom here on 4/22. I had a 1/2 rack of ribs w/fries at the restaurant and then I ordered a Mr. Burns sandwich to go. It was the first time having the sandwich and it was brilliant.



Took Mark here on 7/27. We got the Macaroni and Cheese to start, and then we split a half rack of ribs and the Mr Burns sandwich. It was all so good, but the Mr Burns sandwich was the star of the show. Mark called it "one of the best sandwiches he's ever had."


2. Char Bar


Just tried this place for the first time on 12/6/16. Mercy. The burnt end and ribs were stellar. Brisket and beans, also good. But I'm going back for the burnt ends and ribs. And the atmosphere/drinks is the best I've been to.

Went here on 1/13/17 and had the Burnt Heaven sandwich and fries. Quality was still very good, but it was hard to taste the meat because there was so much going in that sandwich. Fries were awesome and this place has a killer spicy sauce (I had to buy a bottle to take home). Even though the sandwiches are good value and the descriptions are awesome, I think it's better to just get the meat on a plate. 


Took Mark here on 7/25. We split a Holy Trinity plate as well as a pulled pork and sausage plate. Burnt ends are still the star here. Ribs great too. Love the sides and the sauce. Nothing to complain about.


3. Jack Stack

Bridget came to town and we got carryout for everyone (2/19/17). I had the KC Combo with burnt ends and pork ribs, fries, coleslaw and bread. We also had beans and potato salad so I got to try a ton of food.


Ribs were great. The beans were truly incredible, the best beans can be. Some burnt ends were good, some were a little tough and stringy. If it wasn't for that, I'd be considering #1 or #2 spot.


With Bridget in town we got another round of carryout 9/2/17. Ribs, brisket, chicken. Beans, potato salad, cole slaw, cheesy corn, fries.

Everything was solid. Really loved the beans and potato salad. Liked all the meats, but not as much as my top 2.


4. Burnt End BBQ



Tried this place on a whim on 7/16/16, burnt ends and brisket, beans and fries. Burnt ends were the star of the show, hence the name.



Turns out my apartment is just a few minutes away from this place as well. Weird. Dropped in for the jumbo burnt end sandwich and fries today 12/11/16. Since I knew what I liked, I didn't feel pressured to get the 3-meat combo with 2 sides like I usually do when I'm trying a place. Great burnt ends and plenty of meat on the sandwich. I like their sauce assortment and nice atmosphere. Very chill.

Took the boys here on 1/7/17. Burnt ends were much drier than pictured above. Seemed to just get an off portion. I'll still go back, but it seemed to solidify that this place isn't going to be breaking into the top 2 spots any time soon.

Got carry out on 1/28/17. Real good. Ribs and burnt ends are good, as they are at Char Bar and Q39. Guess I just like ribs and burnt ends a lot, eh?!

5. Arthur Bryant's

Went with co-workers on my first day at work, 11/30/16. Didn't take a picture but had the burnt end sandwich and fries. Funny thing was I ordered the lunch special: brisket sandwich. But they gave me a burnt end sandwich. It was awesome, so I should be thanking them. Their sauce is distinctive, and I like it, but it's not my absolute favorite. Still, this is a classic.





(gaping chasm)





6. Joe's



If you ask around, this is many people's favorite place. For me it's always been solid, but never amazing. Had the brisket, ribs and beans on 7/14/16. I don't think I've had their burnt ends because they only serve them on certain days. I'll certainly go there but I doubt this will ever be my favorite place.


Finally tried their burnt ends on 12/14/16. I've given this place so many chances over the years, and it never quite matches up with the competition. It's never bad. Just a 4-star place in a 5-star city. You can see it the picture. Compare Joe's burnt ends with Burnt End BBQ. See how uniform and cube-like they are at Joe's. They're dry. See how unique and juicy the ones at Burnt End are. I'm not eager to go back here. If I do go back, I think you have to stick with the Z-man sandwich. It's tasty, but I still think it's the barbecue sandwich for people who don't really love barbecue.

I've had this a few times at work (carryout) and it continues to be good not amazing. I think because people say it's their favorite and it's not my favorite, I'm always going to be a bit resentful and knock it down a peg.


7. Gates

My only review for this place that counts (2016-present) is a bad one. I went on the way to the airport, so I went to the State Ave location on 12/2/16. Ordering was a mess. I got a beef on bun with fries and the beef was dry, and a weak portion. Unsatisfied. And then I remembered my other trip to this location was bad as well. So I'm optimistic that this is just a poor spot and I'll try elsewhere.



This one hurts. Just two years ago, I was convinced Gates and Arthur Bryant's were the two best barbecue places on the planet. And I thought if I could only go to one, I'd pick Gates. I had the burnt ends at my usual Overland Park location on 12/15/16. Disappointed. Just not in the same ballpark as Char Bar, Q39, Burnt End BBQ or Arthur Bryant's. Next time I go, I think I should stick with the Double Decker, but man...I'm wondering what happened. Was it just that nostalgia and vacation excitement blinded me in the past, or did it really go downhill? Either way, I'm not dying to go back. 




_________________________________________

Places I Want To Try


Danny Edward's
Slap's
Brobeck's
Plowboy's
Jon Russel's
Woodyard
Blind Box
Roscoe's

Official BBQ Map

_________________________________________


I've gotten pretty good and being able to look at yelp pictures and tell if the burnt ends look good or not. This post was created 12/11/16, but I expect to edit and repost occasionally. And the good news is that even not-the-best barbecue is still pretty good. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mark Fever 2017

The last time Mark came I wrote "2015 was a short trip, but we jammed as many games as we could into it." That's a pretty good description for 2017 as well. 

He landed Tuesday afternoon and Brit picked him up with the boys and went to Legoland. I met them for dinner at Char Bar. Burnt ends, ribs, good stuff. 

That night we started in on games: Codenames with Brit, Ice Cool, Tsuro (gang war variant after boys went to sleep), Sushi Go, Burgle Bros.

Wednesday we went to Dave & Busters and did an Escape Room (The Cure: Prevail or Perish at Breakout KC) (We perished) and then hit Boulevard for a flight and then had Pizzeria locale before playing more games. 

Thursday we built an American Gladiators assault course with nerf guns and had lunch at Q39 before taking him to the airport. Mr Burns sandwich + ribs were big winners. 

Always a blast.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trump's Insults Invariably Apply To Himself

Sometimes I think things are so obvious that they need not be said. This is one of those things that it is feel is obvious, and has been alluded to before, but lately I haven't heard this said a lot. 

Trump loves to attack and insult. And yet virtually everything he says is bad about other people applies to himself. 

His favorite thing to say about every news organization that isn't Fox is Fake News. He lies more than anyone and literally has fake Time magazine covers hanging up. 

He attacks the Washington Post for not paying taxes. 

He said Hillary was a liar. Unfit to lead. Corrupt. He said Hillary was Putin's puppet. 

He attacked Samuel L Jackson by calling him unathletic.

Here's what he attacked Comey with: 



This is the equivalent of an obese man shouting "Hey Fatty" out his car window. 

He's a bully with the biggest microphone and there's seemingly no way to call him on his bullshit. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Work Trip to LA


Now that I'm actually making real life commercials, occasionally they send me to shoots. Just got back from a week in LA. 


MONDAY


Arrived in Santa Monica Monday evening. Our hotel (Loews) was amazing and right on the beach. 


Continuing the tradition from my New York work trip, first stop is Umami Burger.


After that we went to West 4th and Jane, a bar associated with the founders of Untappd. Had a Pliny and a Modern Times beer. Walked back to the hotel...


...and enjoyed the fire pit on my private patio.


TUESDAY

Grabbed some breakfast on the way to the casting session. Darren took a behind the scenes shot of our commercial shoot for social media. So I took a behind the scenes shot of the behind the scenes.



After seeing casting videos of 74 actors (for two roles) we brought in 24 for "callbacks" so we could see them live and give them notes. From there we selected our two guys.


After casting, I had time to go to the Santa Monica pier.





I spent $8 on ten plastic balls and got one in a prize hole which won me this. Upon arriving home, I cut the baby panda away from his mom so each boy could have a panda.



Tuesday night we went out to the Den on Sunset, Laurel Hardware and Rainbow Room.

WEDNESDAY

Spent the morning working in the hotel room and then had a little time to kill before our pre-production meeting.


After pre-pro, we took the client out to dinner at Brick + Mortar. 




And walked back via the beach.



Did spend Wednesday night working on McRib commercial scripts pretty late.

THURSDAY

Bright and early on the road to the Simi Valley for our shoot day. 


The first hour of a shoot is just getting the set ready.


After an 11-hour shoot, had our wrap dinner at Tavern. Had a $60 bottle of wine and a $95 steak for two. 




By the end of that, I was exhausted and had to get up early for our Friday flight. Good shoot, good trip.