Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's A Trap

Since we are on the subject of ESPN’s “It’s not crazy.  It’s sports” advertising campaign, I have to highlight the cream of the crop which plays more like a documentary than a commercial.  The great disappointment of this ad and the real life events that inspired it is that real life (and copyright law) interjected itself into the delightful story of an internet meme’s attempt to turn the self-righteousness of the Southern football “tradition” on its head.  Wouldn’t it have been great if those prim and proper dance squad ladies that think it is appropriate to celebrate a legacy of slavery with the nickname of their past it's prime ball team had to  now wear a shirt with a prune-faced alien to their Saturday tailgate party.  Ahhh…what could have been.

Solitaire Update

The updates keep coming.  Not much new to report at this point.  I am beginning to pile up some sizable N's for what my normal rate of success is.  Before I can really appreciated  whether any potential strategies that I mentioned in that first Solitaire post has an impact on success, I have to understand what success looks like.  Right now we are settling in on a number of approximately 1 win for every 6 hands of cards.  Although the almost 200 hands played seems like a lot, there still seems to be some real movement in the numbers.  I think to get a true stable baseline, I need to go a total of 1000 hands.  So that is my goal right now.  1000 hands of solitaire with the standard straight ahead strategy.  Then we will see where we are and go from there.

Day 12 - 1 of 10 (203.5)
Day 13 - 1 of 12 (203.5)
Day 14 - 1 of 1 (203.5, 3.52, 48.34)
Day 15 - 1 of 8 (202, 3.49, 48.16)
Day 16 - 1 of 5 (203)
Day 17 - 3 of 7 (202.5, 3.55, 48.05)
Day 18 - 0 of 9 (202.5, 3.53, 48.05)
Day 19 - 3 of 5 (201.5, 3.56, 47.94)
Day 20 - 0 of 5 (200.5, 3.76, 50.58)
Overall Success Rate - 30 out of 191 (15.7%)

This blog post is sponsored by Allinol.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The World's Most Famous Piece of Terry Cloth

Is it any wonder that ESPN made a commercial that celebrated the fanship of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the single greatest and most successful NFL franchise in professional football history?  To be fair, ESPN did make “It’s not crazy.  It's sports” spots for other teams but none of the others were as genuine and real as the Steeler one.   In fact, the Philadelphia Eagle one was just downright sad for the contrived, artificial nature of it.  Whereas taking the Terrible Towel to the far reaches of the earth is completely natural and expected.  Watch any Steelers’ game and it seems like it is a home game, regardless of where they are playing.  I still remember a Monday night game a couple years back at Washington, the home of a once proud franchise with a supposedly devoted fanbase.  Yet, the Black and Gold dominated the screen and it was the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons quarterback that had problems shouting out signals over the roar of the crowd, not the Steelers.  It wasn’t like they were playing in Jacksonville.  This was an NFL town, yet they couldn’t muster up enough hometown fans to make a decent showing against the invading hordes of the Steelers’ Washington D.C. sleeper cell.  This is not uncommon.  Steeler fans don’t just travel well.  They are in every town and in great numbers.  But why is this?  It isn’t because the once polluting steel mill smokestacks created generation after generation of ex-patriots that infiltrated every corner of this country.   Pittsburgh was just never big enough to have that many former residents.   The truth of the matter is the opening statement of this paragraph.  The Steelers are the most successful NFL franchise of all timeOne for the thumb plus another finger on the other hand (you can pick which finger that is).  Eight Super Bowl visits in all.  The Steelers are proof positive that the specter of league wide parity and the death of the dynasty is one big myth perpetuated by college football apologists who still think anyone still cares about their sham of a “sport”

If we just look back at the last 10 years of NFL playoff history, yes you will see that almost the entire league did make the playoffs at one point or another (Sorry Houston, Detroit, and Buffalo - no playoffs for you in the last 10 years).  And the system is certainly set up to give better odds at a payoff than any slot machine you will see in Vegas.  Firstly, there are only 4 teams in each division.  So right off the bat you have a 25% chance in making the playoffs.  Not bad.  Once you add in the wildcards, you have over one third of the league participating in the post season every year.  During the last decade, if true parity were in place, you would expect every team to make the playoffs 3-4 times.  Instead, the majority of playoff visits are cluster amongst the a few privileged teams.  The NFL’s 1%.  In this elite group, you are making the playoffs, at worst, every other year.  The 10 most successful franchises (Indianapolis, New England, Phliadelphia, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York Jets, Seattle, New York Giants, and San Diego) account for 56% of the playoff spots grabbed in the last 10 years despite only making up only 31% of the league’s teams.  The bottom 11 teams (Houston, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland, Washington, San Francisco, Oakland, Miami, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and Arizona) captured 12.5% of the playoff spots (about 1 per 10 years on average) with 34.5% of the league’s teams during that same time frame.  People love to point to the yearly turnover of playoff teams as proof of the league’s parity.  But this myopic view misses the larger trends that are obvious with a more macro view.  One that shows that in fact there are dominant teams that over the long term continue to succeed again and again, while the one year wonders quickly return to obscurity.  If you live in Cleveland you can hold onto the dream of parity and the promise it brings to deliver your once in a decade playoff visit.  Or you can face reality and become a fan of real winner of a franchise like Indianapolis that gave you a rooting interest in January for nine straight years.  And that folks is why there are more Steeler fans in Jacksonville than Jaguar fans (The Jaguars really only have themselves to blame for this – they could have drafted TIM TEBOW!).

Solitaire Update
One of the stated goals I had for doing the solitaire update was to encourage more frequent writing on this blog.  Given that it has been over a month since my last blog post, you might say that I missed that goal by a country mile.  Well, yes and no.  I have been dutifully keeping track of my solitaire success and failures and the presence of that card playing log has been a constant weight on my conscience.  A tell-tale deck of cards whispering in my ear to post an update.  The quickly accumulating backlog of solitaire data has in many ways done exactly what it was supposed to do.  It has provided me with the prompt I need to finally get my fingers to the keyboard and start reporting.  And really only 30 odd days between posts is pretty good for me.  So I declare “Mission Accomplished”.

Day 6 - 2 of 13
Day 7 - 2 of 13
Day 8 - 2 of 14
Day 9 - 3 of 12
Day 10 - 3 of 11 (204, 3.5, 48.22)
Day 11 - 0 of 10 (203.5, 3.41, 47.47)
Overall Success Rate - 19 out of 129 (14.7%)

This blog post is sponsored by Merlotte's Bar and Grill.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Unfortunately this year, we weren't able enjoy a White Christmas. But that doesn't mean we can't imagine all the fun we would have it the white stuff did come down. (Still miss you Calvin).

This blog post is sponsored by Trundle's Clock Repair.