Sunday, December 11, 2005

Puck Off

Bruins fans, why, oh why do you continue to patronize this team? The feeling dawned on me just after they announced the return from their labour (Canadian sp) dispute. The Bruins spearheaded the call for fiscal responsibility, most notably with a hard salary cap. They promised fans that they were in the best possible position to win the Stanley Cup (note they didn’t promise a Cup, but that they would be positioned for a Cup).

And then the lackluster free agency. Oh boy! Brian Leetch! Wasn’t he Rookie of the Year? Why yes he was! In 1988. What else? He was a Norris Trophy winner in 1996! That’s ten years ago. Wait, wait, wait. Zhamnov! Oh boy, we’re cookin’ now!

Here’s where they lost me. They sold me optimism and I wound up with gobshite. Again. They seriously can sell it over there, can’t they?

So I just sort of stopped paying attention to this team. And they have really done nothing since to pique my interest. The Thornton trade? Sure, you need some defense, I agree. And you pitched a shut out the first night with the new guys. But then, 14 goals in 3 games, how you like me now? But they need time to gel as a unit! Well, Thornton seems to be gelling just fine with the Sharks, having scored a total of 8 points in four games. Don’t sell me this shit anymore cuz I ain’t buyin it. Seriously, just go away.

Not that I should really be speaking about hockey. Hell, I was shocked to hear the news about Mario Lemieux the other day. Not because of his irregular heartbeat, but that he was still playing! Isn’t he an owner of the team or something?

Anyway, the Christmas bug has bitten POTF right on the bottom, and here are a few stocking stuffer suggestions;

Here’s one that has Partridge novelty gift all over it;




It’s a plastic reindeer that poops brown and black jellybeans! Sure to endear you to the father or mother in law!

And for the child or teenager that has ambitions of being an office drone;


“Also includes a job title sticker sheet so you can create a convoluted and meaningless position for your employee.”

Seriously, don’t we all have those feelings at least once a day? If any of you need any gift ideas for POTF, the break room (set #5) looks like fun.

For a seriously cool magazine;


It’s Vice Magazine! I don’t remember where or how I got the idea to subscribe to this thing, and I think I ordered the subscription about three months ago. Having totally forgot I ordered it, the first issue came yesterday! Truly interesting and goofy writing styles (about ½ of those traits can be applied to POTF). This months issue featured dozens of columns under the spending time with /at/ being themes. POTF’s favorites included the column where one writer spent 12 hours riding on a city bus (sample: “The drunk wobbles down the aisle and back, mumbles, ‘Mumble, mumble, take a shit, mumble.’ He picks his ear.”), as well as the column where a woman spent three days pretending to be a stalker (sample: “I kept telling him we were made for each other and that I wasn’t able to take a shower since his scent was all over my body. He yelled at me, told me to leave again, and I ran into the house and hid under the covers in his bed, crying at top volume.) I really don’t know why I laughed at this, but the delivery was pretty hilarious.

So shall we breakdown the current scenario is Shakey’s? It looks pretty bleak for the Dykes. They must win, the Rockets must lose, and the Dykes must outscore the Rockets by more than 45 points. It is not an impossible situation for the Dykes, who have scored over 150 points 4 times this season. And the Rockets have scored under 100 points twice. Here’s a scenario; What about a tie?! What’s the next criterion? The two have split their season series. POTF suggests a pankration match, the forgotten ancient Olympic sport that combined wrestling and boxing and upon which ultimate fighting is now based;


On to the (relevant) picks!

Dykes Over Missiles

The Missiles have some difficult match ups this week, having to start a thumby Ben Roethlisberger against the teeth of the Bears D. Or Charlie Frye? God, at this point it really doesn’t matter. The Dykes’ Shaun Alexander and Lamont Jordan should have some beastly totals. But will they be enough to overcome the points lead?

Quick Stat of the year

Total Defensive TD’s scored by the Missiles this year – ZERO.

Bonus Pick!

Bears (+6) over Steelers

It is likely that the Bears won’t give up more than 6 points, and would have to be shut-out by the Steelers.

Note – Last week’s pick of the USC – UCLA under was a true botch job by POTF. The over/ under was 73.5, the total wound up being 85! That’s the equivalent of over 12 touchdowns, or a TD every 5 minutes! POTF forgot that the clock stopped on first downs. The Foil was foiled!

Much ado has been made about the relative impact of points against as it relates to record. POTF has used it as an excuse himself to explain away a shoddy performance at year end. But let’s take a quick statistical approach by using correlation. To the stat deficient, correlation is a way of measuring two variables independence from one another in a linear manner. A correlation of one means there is a direct positive impact of one variable on another. A correlation of zero means that the events are totally independent of one another. All correlations are between 1 and 0.

POTF measured Total Wins against Points For in correlation context, as well as Total Losses vs. Points Against. In 2005, the two numbers were the closest they’ve ever been. For Total Wins vs. Points For, the coefficient is .89. For Total Losses vs. Points Against, the coefficient is .81. So Points For has a deeper impact on Total Wins than Points against has in Total Losses. The lesson; Score more points and you will be fine! (Note: in 2004, there was a very large difference in these coefficients. Points For vs. Total Wins was .97, and Points Against vs Total Losses was .59. Again, score more points!)

Time for another pick!

Rockets Over Pants

The Pants are almost finished with their back up QB free agent pick ups. Somebody grab Seneca Wallace quick! While POTF admired the moxie of grabbing Sorgi, a truly hearty thumbs down goes for the pick up of the tastefully named Marques Tuiasosopo, who seriously sucks. Norv Turner is about to shoot his way out of Oakland like only Norv Turner can do. Although I guess the Pants have to do something about their QB situation. POTF suggests playing to win with who brung you there, not playing to prevent the other teams from winning, especially if it entails picking up someone like Tuiasosopo. Meanwhile in Rocketville, all is right with the world, even after the shiftiness that occurred with that whole, “No Mas” thing. POTF will warn that the Fantasy Football Gods rarely reward these types of shenanigans with a title.

Quick Stat of the Millenium;

Rockets playoff appearances (not including 2005) – 4

Championships - 0

Bonus Pick!

Denver (-14) Over Baltimore

While POTF generally stays away from such big chalk, the Broncos at home vs. The Ravens is just too good. Not only is the Ravens offense punchless, the Ravens defense apparently stinks as well.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Walking the Lines

It’s go time! Week 13, two team guaranteed playoff spots, three teams are fighting for the last two. What fun!

Due to the magic of the foil and a strong statistical background (actually those with a B-school background can perform a pretty simple decision tree), POTF has delineated 16 different possible outcomes for the play-offs. (Note, these infer that the current spread between points remains as is – Pants currently have a 91 point lead over the nearest competitor, an extremely difficult margin to overcome in two weeks, but you never know, worse meltdowns have occurred. Heh, heh, heh.)

In 12 of these 16 scenarios, the Pants are in. In 4 of the scenarios where the Pants make the play-offs, it is a toss-up between the Dykes and Rockets as to who is in. That is, they would have the same record but the point differential is so insignificant at this point that the 2nd play-off team is as yet undetermined. Hey, the foil is not infallible (which you would know if you have followed POTF’s picks this year!)

In 4 of these 12 scenarios where the Pants are in, The Dykes are guaranteed a play-off spot.

In the other 4 of these 12 scenarios where the Pants are in, the Rockets are guaranteed a play-off spot.

Yet again, in another 4 of the 16 total scenarios, the Dykes and Rockets are in, and the Pants are home, crying in their beer. Not surprisingly, these 4 scenarios also entail that the Pants lose the last two games of the season, so no real surprise their.

So in effect the breakdown is thus:
Pants and toss-up – 4:1 probability
Pants and Dykes – 4:1 probability
Pants and Rockets – 4:1 probability
Dykes and Rockets – 4:1 probability

Anyone else have a headache yet?

The Magic 8 foiled? Possibly. In 11 of the 16 scenarios, 8 wins and you are in. In the other 5, you will not get a play-off spot. The foil is telling POTF that the 8 win rule will remain in effect, but perhaps we should make it a guideline rather than a rule. Done and done. (Note: In one scenario of the 16, 7 wins can be the magic number! Just not if one of them is the Pants. Strange.)

POTF as investment vehicle
While many have ridiculed the foil for his somewhat glib manner and inaccurate forecasting, you would have been wise to invest in both the picks and the bonus picks. POTF was a whopping 22-11 in his Shakey’s pick and bonus picks combined. Do you know what that means?!

OK, if you had invested one dollar in three of the picks, for example, at the beginning of the year, and let’s say two came in consistently and one lost, every week. Every week, you took your winnings and did the same thing. You would at this point have $2,097,152 in the bank right now! Talk about outperforming the market! And we still have 5 weeks left in the regular season, 4 play-off rounds, and bowl season. Grab your wallets now!

POTF will only make two of the relevant picks this week, as who really gives a shit what happens in the other.

Pants Over Dykes
A tricky one here, as the Pants are starting relatively unproven Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick against what POTF believes is an overrated WAS defense, and the erratic Mark Brunell against a porous STL defense. The rest of the team looks solid top to bottom, and the match-ups are favorable, although Chad and Larry Johnson may struggle vs the Pittsburgh and Denver defenses, respectively. On the other side, the Dykes QB combo has it’s work cut out for it as Favre goes against the suffocating Bears D and McNair goes against an impressive Colts D. I think the so-called guru is overblowing what Shaun Alexander will contribute vs. the Philly D as well.

Pick – Pants in a nail-biter.

Note to Pants ownership – That Jim Sorgi pick up was a brilliant move. I’m not kidding. You bastard.

Bonus Pick!
While the USC UCLA match-up is tempting with its USC – 21 point spread and over under of 73.5. 73.5 points! This means that the equivalent of 11 TD’s must be scored! Broken down further, this equals one touchdown every 5.5 minutes! Broken down another way, if USC is to cover the 21 (which they always do) and the over, the score would be USC 48 UCLA 26. I’m going to go under on this one.

As POTF reader Tim P. from Boston noted earlier in the week, I had a front row seat for the arrest of suspected “Average Joe” bank robber and his girlfriend. I was next door sorting through the neighbors’ mail while she is in Australia, and blaring sirens erupted from the street. This is not uncommon in Charlestown, but they usually fade away. When they remained loud, I thought that they were coming for me on a breaking and entering charge! Yikes.

I ventured a peak out the doorway and saw approximately ten FBI vehicles surrounding a maroon shitbox, guns drawn and in the driver and passenger side windows! It was more exciting than the near race riot that occurred outside the windows of 29 Concord street. I had no idea what was going on, but figured it was a drug bust on our oxycontin peddling neighbors across the street. Then the police had an ordinary man and woman, probably about 22 or 23 in handcuffs. The news broke later on that it was the “Average Joe” bank robber, who had frustrated officials for the past three months. But it was a very fitting nickname for a very non-descript man.

In other news, as promised, POTF and POTFette took in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line”. As mentioned before, The Man in Black is the only country singer that POTF will listen to, and the obsession stems from an early childhood record, the seemingly incongruous album, “Johnny Cash Children’s Songs.” POTF also enjoys the past work of Joaquin Phoenix (Parenthood, 8MM), who seems like a pretty regular guy blessed with very underrated acting skills. Those skills are firmly on display here, as Phoenix electrically channels Cash’s hangdog looks and equals the singing job that Jamie Foxx in “Ray”. The chill scene emerges early in the movie, when a Memphis record company derails Johnny’s gospel aspirations and asks him if he can sing anything that he believes in. Cash starts into a stripped down version of “Folsom Prison Blues” and we see the demons that pursue him well up. A very impressive and well done moment which could have gone over the top with treacle.

Similarly, Reese Witherspoon as June Carter displays her usual spritely cuteness. POTF feels that Reese would be a pain in the ass in real life, but she does a great job at showing how June tried with all of her might to keep Cash at arms length before finally succumbing to his neediness.

The most fun are the rollicking tours of the country. Elvis (who delivers the line of the movie, which foreshadows his bizarre diet), Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Waylon Jennings are all here on the tour. Can you imagine seeing them in their youth? The stage shows are very well directed and come as close to capturing the excitement as possible.

The movie follows very close to the “Ray” template. We see Cash’s childhood tragedy that marks him. We see his philandering and drug use. But where “Ray” links Charles’s drug use directly to that childhood tragedy, “Walk the Line” makes no such excuse. At first POTF thought this was a fault of the movie, but upon further review appreciated not being hit over the head with the demons that caused the drug use. It was what it was, a crippling addiction.

Verdict: See it. The musical scenes, the music itself, and the acting demand it. POTF sees a Best Actor nomination for Joaquin and possible win. Reese may get a Best Actress nomination but will more likely get a Best Supporting Actress nomination, she’s sort of a tweener with the screen time.

Time for the next pick!
Rockets over Chewers
The Rockets are on a roll, averaging 171.5 points per week over the last two weeks. The Chewers are not, having lost their last two contests and ending their play-off hopes. POTF wonders if the Chewers will even put up a fight here and go with Chris Simms at QB, or keep a woozy and not starting Jamie Martin in his line-up. The Rockets are firing on all cylinders, and that Steelers D looked vulnerable against the pass last week. Look for Carson and LaDanian to have some big games.
Pick – Rockets.

Bonus Pick!
Bucs (-3.5) over Saints
Bucs are fighting for play-off survival and the Saints are, well they’re the Saints.