Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crowning Moment of Awesome- 07/19/2014

Weird Al Yankovich has a new album and is revealing 8 videos over 8 days on his website.


My own opinion is that the first three videos ("Tacky","Word Crimes", "Foil") are especially incredible- funny and brilliant music parodies.  Weird Al has been putting on fantastic work for over 30 years.  Watch and enjoy.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

So- back on the diet

Weight's been creeping up.  Which annoys me, because I do work out on a regular basis.  I know the reasons- I eat too much, I eat too fast, and I eat the wrong kind of foods.

So- back on a diet.  A friend of mine lost 50 pounds on the Paleo Diet, so I'm giving that a try.  Or at least partly- I'm willing to give up grains and dairy, and even eggs and beans for a few weeks (during the initial purge).  But they can take my caffeine when they pry it from my cold, dead, still-shaking fingers. 

On a semi-related note... There's a stand at the West Side market that sells dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and they are fantastic.  I love strawberries, but two days after buying them they start to go bad.  But dehydrated, they still taste great and can last for over a month.  I'm getting so hooked I'm contemplating buying a dehydrating machine myself...

(And hey- fruits and vegetables are on the Paleo plan.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

NBA Post-Draft thoughts

Thoughts on the NBA, just after the draft:

1)  I have loved the moves Cleveland has made recently.  Everything I've read about David Blatt makes me think he'll be an outstanding coach.  The Spurs have shown that playing Euro-style pass works, and Blatt has been coaching for 30 years.  And it doesn't hurt that people rave about him being an offensive genius.  

2)  Drafting Andrew Wiggins was the right move with the #1 pick.  With Embiid injured, it came down to Wiggins and Jabari Parker.   And quite frankly, the Cavs already have a player like Jabari Parker in Anthony Bennett.  We need a small forward, and Blatt's system works with uberathletic wings.  Wiggins was the right choice.

3)  I don't blame the 76ers for drafting Embiid- he has the highest ceiling.  But drafting both of their first round picks on guys who won't play this year?  Man, I feel for the 76ers fans.  I get the concept on paper, but this next year is going to be ugly.  And, having just seen a long rebuild, I can tell you it's harder to turn the switch to 'on' after a few years of a culture of losing.

4)  LeBron's not leaving Miami.  Wade and Bosh wouldn't have opted out if they didn't have a plan in mind to keep all three and restructure their contracts to reload.

I'll give the Heatles credit- they have played their cards brilliantly.  They joined the weaker conference at the right time, and have walked all over the Eat into four straight Finals.  If they were doing so for my franchise, I'd love it.  Am I pissed that LeBron is showing dedication and loyalty to Miami that he never did with Cleveland?  Yes- but I'm over it.  LeBron will retire a member of the Miami Heat as one of the best players of all time.

5)  Jason Kidd is either a maniac or a genius- he just pulled a power play that will get him removed as Brooklyn's coach and into a sweeter deal with Milwaukee.  Given Brooklyn's aged lineup and lack of future draft picks... this may be a ruthless way to get out of Brooklyn before the bill comes due.

6)  Five Predictions for the upcoming season:
  1. If Noel doesn't come back 100%, the 76ers might lose 70 games.
  2. Rajon Rondo gets traded from Boston to Sacramento
  3. The Miami Heat resign James, Wade, and Bosh, and have enough- not for Carmelo Anthony, but for 2 free agents (say, Luol Deng and Shaun Livingston)
  4. Anthony Bennett will emerge as one of the five best players from the rookie class of 2013
  5. Jabari Parker will win the Rookie of the Year (Milwaukee needs scoring, and he fills an obvious hole for them; I still prefer Wiggins long-term)



 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Business Concept: The Game's The Thing

Spent the past week at Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio.  Had a fantastic time- played in two LARPs, one game of NSDM (National Strategic Decision Making), several 7th Sea games- really enjoyable.

In the dealer room, they were giving a demonstration of the game Mage Wars.  The game looks fantastic and fun- but it's also $60, and I'm not sure when I would play the game.  So that got me thinking...

Here's my idea:  A coffeehouse or bar (the bar would make more money, but also has a much higher overhead) that also doubles as a gaming room.  The place would have several tables and chairs, and a stocked bookshelf of every board and card game that would be interesting to players.

Anyone can come in and buy a drink or sit down.  If they want to borrow a game, they have to pay a fee.  I'm thinking $10 allows anyone to borrow any game for the day- but you can buy a subscription- say, $100 for a full year.  During that year, you can come down to the bar, borrow a game, play it with friends while drinking, and return the game afterwards.

The bar owner makes his money, not just from the drinks, but from the subscription fees.  And people would pay a once a year fee to stop by and use any game in the system.  So a group of four could stop by once a week and play Mage Wars one week, Cards Against Humanity the next week, 7 Wonders the third...

I've seen businesses like this for computer games.  But computers require a much higher level of expenses, compared to board games.

It gives people (a) a place to play and (b) a library of games.  It gives a bar a good theme that isn't being used, and I don't think the upkeep would be that much.

This might be a workable business concept.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Path forward for the Cavaliers

Holy hell... the Cavs got the #1 pick!  

For anyone complaining about this... the Cavs didn't tank, they tried to win, but a combination of factors, they failed.  The had a 1.7% chance of winning, and luck favored them.  Considering the amount of bad luck Cleveland has had sports wise, it seems really whiny for any fan who has had their team win a championship in my lifetime to complain about this.

So- now that the Cavs have the #1 pick, what do they do?  I have a few recommendations, as a lifelong fan.


Rule #1:  LeBron James is not coming back to Cleveland.  

Rule #2:  LeBron James is not coming back to Cleveland.

Rule #3:  LeBron James is not coming back to Cleveland.  Whatever decision you make, please do let any dreams of James rejoining this team be a factor.  James has chosen his path, and I wish him well.  But he is not coming back to Northeast Ohio.  THe goal is to win, not to get King James back to Cleveland.

Rule #4:  Do not attempt to trade for Kevin Love unless he agrees to sign an extension.  I like Kevin Love, and think he is a top 10 player in the NBA.  But he has one year left on his contract, and all statements indicate he is going to free agency.  More power to him- but if the Cavs are thinking about trading for him, he's a one year rental unless he agrees otherwise.  A one year rental is not worth the #1 pick in this draft.

Rule #5:  Kyrie Irving (and Tristan Thompson) can sign an extension in July.  He should be offered a max extension.  Nate Silver argues that Kyrie is not worth a max contract, and I can see his reasoning.  However, he is forgetting two important factors:

* The NBA is making money, and the trend indicates the salary cap is rising- meaning a max contract today may not be worth a max contract three years from now.

* There is an opportunity cost- if the Cavs lose Kyrie Irving by not signing him to a max contract, where are they going to get a player of his caliber?

So offer him a max.  He either signs it (yay), or refuses, in which case he needs to be put on the trading block, and the team needs to accept not having him.  I hope he stays, but I'm not rooting for a player who doesn't want to be here.

Rule #6:  Pick a direction and determine your coach, free agents, and draft picks around that.  Assuming Kyrie stays (and for a max contract, he should), there are two directions that clearly work.

* Full run & gun.  In that case, hire a coach who fits the run & gun style (George Karl, Mike D'Antoni, Alvin Gentry, or a college or assistant coach with this mindset).  That's my top choice.  Then draft Wiggins, re-sign Spencer Hawes, and go with a lineup of:

- PG:  Kyrie Irving
- SG:  Dion Waiters
- C: Spencer Hawes
- PF: Tristan Thompson
- SF:  Andrew Wiggins
- Bench:  Anderson Varejao, Anthony Bennett, CJ Miles, Jarrett Jack, Matthew Dellanova

Constant running, stagger everybody's minutes so no one goes about 30 minutes, and try to win 140-130

* More standard lineup.  Hire a coach the team will listen to (Lionel Hollins comes to mind), draft Joel Embiid with the #1 pick, lose Hawes, find the best SF you can in the free agent market.  

I think this one is harder to pull off given the Cav's current lineup.  It has two advantages over the run and gun style, though:

- If Healthy, Joel Embiid has a higher ceiling than Andrew Wiggins.  But with his back, that 'if' will always be a question

- No run and gun team has ever won a NBA title; Phoenix came close but never made the finals even.

* To be honest, I'm torn here.  I think the second path requires more rework of the team, but might have a higher chance of success.  But the run & gun team would be fun to watch.  And because I'm worried about Embiid's back, that's the direction I'm leaning towards.

* Also, if Kyrie indicates he's not signing even a max contract?  Draft Embiid and go the standard path.  I'm a Dion Waiters fan, but we need two great guards to pull this off, and I don't know where we get that second guard.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Seriously???

According to ESPN and Grantland writer Bill Simmons, "God Hates Cleveland".  It's a popular meme because SO MANY awful things happen to sports teams.  The last time any of their three major professional sports team any title was in 1964, and most NFL fans don't count championships before the Super Bowl (which started five years later).

Just some of our "highlights":

* An NBA owner who was so incompetent that the NBA gave the team draft picks when he sold the team, and established a rule named after him to prevent an owner from making trades as badly as he did

* "Red Right 88"

* "The Drive"

* "The Fumble"
 
* We just need better players?  We had LeBron James.  James quit on the team during the 2010 playoffs, then took less money because he wanted to party on South Beach instead of playing for his hometown fans.   

* LeBron didn't have any good teammates, you say?  Meet Carlos Boozer.  The Cavs drafted him in the second round, and he was turning into a potential all star power forward.  He was under conctract for one more year, so the Cavs and him had a handshake deal to release him from that contract in excahnge for signing a long term deal.  The Cavs released him, and Boozer stabbed the Cavs in the back by signing with the Utah Jazz instead.

* We just need better coaches?  We had Bill Belichick.  He made all of his mistakes with the Browns, then decided to turn into a coaching genius on his NEXT NFL job

* Losing the 1995 World Series.  Atlanta, during their run in the 90s, only won one world series, despite winning the pennant five times.  Ah well- at least Atlanta is a real club...

* ... unlike the Florida Marlins, who bought a bunch of free agents and somehow won the 1997 World Series.  I would have MUCH rather lost to the Yankees or Red Sox, and I don't like either team.

* And then there's Art Modell.  Despite one of the most loyal fan bases in the country and a bill to improve Municipal Stadium, Modell stabbed the city in the back, stole the team, and moved it to Baltimore.  You'd think fans of the former Colts would have not wanted to steal another team, but there it is.  Cleveland had no football for four years, then was rewarded with an expansion team run by morons.

And to top it all off, the Modell's Browns never made it to the Super Bowl- but Modell's Ravens have won it twice now.

* To show you how bad the new expansion, I give you this:  It's a list of all of the Cleveland Brown Quarterbacks since 1999.  Not a pretty list.


So, with all of that background- the Browns had a good day on Thursday.  They started out with the #4 pick and #26 pick, traded down, got an extra #1 for next year, picked up the best Cornerback in the draft and their newest Quarterback, Johnny Manziel.  People are all over the map on how good Manziel will be in the NFL.  

Now, at #4, people wanted to take Sammy Watkins.  That was my choice.  He is supposedly the best WR in the draft.  Now, the Browns have one good WR- Josh Gordon- but they have been weak there otherwise.

But I liked the trade, and we have now have a better defense and a new QB.  And we still have Gordon, right?  Second best WR after Calvin Johnson?  We should be good, right?

"God Hates Cleveland"

Josh Gordon is facing a year long suspension for multiple drug violations- this time for pot.  

So now we have a new QB and no good wide receivers to throw too (I would love for Greg Little to prove me wrong here.)


Sigh.

Welcome to Cleveland.









Saturday, April 19, 2014

Requiem for a lost NBA Season

The NBA Regular Season is over, and I'll post my playoff predictions later.  For now, I want to reflect on my Cleveland Cavaliers.

This was not the worst season I have experienced as a fan.  It may have been the most disappointing.  On paper, the Cavs improved by nine wins.  But there were too many games that the team didn't appear to try, that they threw in the towel.  Rumors of locker room fights.  A #1 draft pick that is screaming a 'bust'.  Andrew Bynum.

The GM was fired.  I thought Chris Grant did a great job on paper.  Kyrie was the best pick possible.  Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters were considered reaches, but when you look at who the alternatives were, I thought they were reasonable choices.  Anthony Bennett- I'll get to him in a little bit.

But Grant's fatal flaw was that he drafted for talent, and not for chemistry.  Basketball, much more than baseball, relies on the team working together and creating something bigger than the parts.  So far, the individual players haven't shown they can work as a team on a consistent basis.  They have shown flashes- and when they do, the team looks amazing- but it only lasts for a quarter or a half, and by the next game it doesn't appear again.

Should the blame be put on Mike Brown for not making them work together better?  Sure, some.  But it's also his first year with any of these players- and Brown's teams have always started slow and done better as the year goes on.  With a young team like the Cavs, they should get better in years 2 and 3.

Anthony Bennett- here's my 'foot in mouth' statement that can be thrown back at me.  I think, in ten years, Bennett will be one of the three best players in the draft class of 2013.  He's young, he has talent.  Yes, he was a complete bust.  But he's 20, and his flaw (conditioning) can be overcome.  A player like Victor Oladipo won't ever learn to be a consistent 20ppg player.  If Bennett stays in shape- and I think he will- and he stays healthy- he will improve tremendously next year.

So- where do we go from here?  There are a lot of open questions, and I'll go down the list:

1)  Will Kyrie sign?  This one is actually very simple.  In July, Kyrie can be offered a five year extension.  He can either accept, or refuse, take a one year contract, and then work towards becoming an unrestricted free agent.

I will be shocked if Kyrie doesn't sign.  Partly because- who leaves $80 million on the table?  And also- if Kyrie refuses, the fans will turn on him viciously.  LeBron James left without notice- Kyrie could, in theory, have to play a full year as a pariah. 

If he doesn't sign, the Cavs will look for a trade offer- but they'd have to be blown away.  Otherwise, the next year will be ugly for everyone around.  But I don't think that will happen.

2)  Who is the GM?  After Grant was fired,David Griffin became the interim GM.  He made one trade (Spencer Hawes) that looks good for the Cavs.  More importantly, the team improved (the team was 17-16 after Griffin took over).  I think he deserves the chance to run the team.

3)  Who is the Coach? Remember- despite everything that has happened, the Cavs improved by nine games.  I would keep Mike Brown, unless Kyrie insisted on a different coach before an extension.  And if Kyrie insisted on that, he'd better deliver.

4)  Free Agents.  The Cavs have two free agents.  Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes.  I like both players, but Deng will demand $12 million a year for 4 years.  He's had injury problems, and while he is a good player, the team didn't turn around with him.  

Hawes is younger, plays Center, works well with Kyrie, and will cost about $8 million a year.  I think he can be resigned, and hope the Cavs pursue this.

5)  The Draft.  The draft takes play in June, and Kyrie's status won't be resolved until July.  Damn.  OK, the Cavs have enough project players.  They really need a few things:
   *  Small Forward
   *  Three point shooter
   *  Shot blocking Center

Before the lottery, the Cavs are projected to pick ninth.  Someone like Doug McDermott fits the bill.

If, on the other hand, the Cavs think they will need to trade Kyrie, they will need a point guard- an Tyler Ennis should still be on the board.


Overall- a disappointing season, and one I will be glad to move on from.  But hope springs eternal...

 PS- you'll notice I haven't mentioned that LeBron can opt out and become a free agent.  He can- but he won't come to Cleveland.  LeBron has his priorities, but the fans of Northeast Ohio are not one of them.