Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rip City

So, a month or two ago I was thinking about the Blazers. Specifically, around the time they announced they were going to retire Terry Porter's number I started remenicing about those old Blazer teams again. Then I remembered the awesome Blazer rap songs and Rip City Rhapsody in particular. I spent hours (literally several hours over 2-3 nights) searching for an mp3 or youtube video of the that song.  You see I loved that song. I had the cassette tape. I had a VHS tape of the highlights from that season that had the video. And I watched it on a pretty regular basis. But I couldn't find it. It didn't exist anywhere. Adter that amount of searching I was convinced that the internet had let me down.

So, why did I tell you all of this? Because I thought perhaps it wasn't clear how big of a dork I was/am?  No, not exactly. You see, the great Lord of the Tubes has granted my wish. So to all of you that love it, to all of you that have never seen it, I present the video of Rip City Rhapsody! Big thanks to Bust-a-Bucket for getting this done.

While watching the video keep your eye out for some classic Drazen shots... as well as Kevin Johnson crying like a baby. But perhaps best of all, is hearing the Schonz calls in the background.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Before reaching our feature presentation, a short note. As I typed the title to this post, my mind half wandered and before I knew it I had types "Random Acts of Congress." I am sure that isn't exactly a new joke, but it made me chuckle. Anyway, on to the real reason I am here:

First things first, here is the article that inspired this post. 

There, have you read it? You should, my rant will make more sense that way. In case you are too lazy here are the cliffs notes: 1) Girl at Sheldon High starts a club to perform random acts of kindness. It grows quickly. 2) They start by giving free hugs at a Duck game, and all is good. 3) They try to rake leaves for people in the neighborhood. One of the people they approach decides these high-schoolers (7 girls and 1 guy) are there to burgle her house and calls the cops. 4) They try to hand out cards with nice messages and mints at VRC. Security kicks them out for violating the anti-soliciting rule.

It really is quite incredible. Unbelievable, frankly. Now, I can be as cynical as the next guy. Maybe even more so. I try not to be, but the fact is it is almost impossible not to grow cynical in my job. But here we have kids trying to be good. High schoolers spending time doing something other then  drinking, or trying to score some dope, or partying etc. and what happens? They get kicked out of VRC? An older woman calls the police and reports them as suspicious for trying to rake her leaves? I always knew that the world wasn't a place all full of happy sunshine and rainbows etc. And I know most people know it too. But still, if 7 girls and 1 guy, all of high-school age offered to rake my yard for free? I really don't think I would suspect them of trying to burgle me. And I deal with thieves, burglars and drug addicts on a daily basis. 

I don't know, maybe if it was in Detroit, or certain parts of Los Angeles or something I could understand the suspicion. But Eugene? C'mon! I guess I am just disappointed in people. I seems like such a wonderful idea for the students, and that it got such an antagonistic reception saddens me. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I mean unfathomable, as in someone making a watchable movie out of the Silmarilion unbelievable. Now obviously I am Duck fan. But with the Ducks idle, and being a college football fan (and a little under the weather and thereby confined to my chair) I thought I would watch the OSU @ U of A game, right? Wrong. For some reason known only to FSN, which I now strongly suspect is actually run by a small cadre of monkeys, they have decided to replay the Apple Cup. The game they just showed at noon! For god's sake the Washington schools had 1 win between them. Why in the name of all that is holy would you re-play a game between two shitty teams (that was just on) instead of a new game that has Rose Bowl implications.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So I am laying her in my bedroom, listening to the Blazer game. You see I don't have Comcast, nor is there a Trailblazer radio affiliate in the Astoria area. Luckily, from one spot in my bedroom I can pickup the broadcast on 95.5 out of Portland. Anyway, none of that has a whole lot to do with this post. This post is actually another in my sporadic series looking at modern statistical analysis and the NBA.

It is still pretty early in the season, so any statistics we could look at would be significantly limited by small sample size limitations. However, I came across a couple of articles at Basketball Prospectus (main page: here) that I think bear some comment, and with a little luck, some discussion. Kevin Pelton is the main writer for Basketball Prospectus, and he has worked to develop a projection system called SCHOENE that is (at least in some ways) similar to PECOTA, a baseball projection system. See here for a nice in depth explanation. In essence, SCHOENE uses last years stats to build a projection for every player that played at least 250 minutes in the previous season. Once the player projections are finished, those can then be used to build team projections. There are obviously several important adjustments made, if you are curious about those follow the link above.

So, that is a long explanation that you probably didn't need just to link to this. That is the SCHOENE projection for the Northwest Division this year. A little surprising to me was the projection for Portland: 51-31 and the division winner. Now don't get me wrong, I love the Blazers. I am just not sure they are 50+ win team this year. Compare this with Hollinger, who looks at Portland as more or less a .500 team. In some ways I tend to think Hollinger's projection is closer to reality, but honestly I am not qualified to discuss which system is stronger. I do think it is important to point out that Hollinger uses 3 years of weighted statistics rather then just last years. Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting.

PS. Kind of funny, looking at Lamarcus Aldridge's closest comparison (that is what player of similar size, position, etc. did his last season match closest): Channing Frye. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1st half thoughts.

Sort of live blogging this... Here are the thougths I had.

Frye's first 3 of the season didn't look good. I know he has been working on it, and I won't judge from one shot but it looked rushed and flat.

Frankly, the whole team has looked jittery and rushed. I know they are young, but I was hoping at least Roy and Aldridge would show a little more poise. I hope it gets better soon or tonight could get long in a hurry.

Greg looks a little lost on the offensive side of the ball, at times I can't say I am completely surprised, but this is the first chance I have been able to watch him. He does look rebounding on the defensive side.

Half way through the 2nd and Outlaw looks like he is starting to heat up. That would help. Portland needs some kind of offensive spark if they are going to make a game of this. Of course, that doesn't mean he nees to force ugly shots...

Like you would expect from a young team, Portland looks really good on one defensive possession, and really bad on the next. If there is anything to take away from this game going forward I think it is this. There is a lot of talent, but it is still young. Consistency will take time, and I think Blazer fans are going to need patience.

I still say Portland should make one of the last 2 spots in the playoffs this year.

Greg just dropped a great move. Drew the double team, split it, drew the foul and still got off a clean shot.. It didn't go in, but it was a look at what he can do.

That goal tending call on Oden looked like bullshit to me. You will notice TNT didn't show the replay...

Blake needs to knock down wide open shots. I have been a big defender of him, but you need to knock down those shots.

LA is playing aggressive defense, but Portland is making it really easy on them. They have no offensive focus. Whatever the game plan was, it doesn't seem that Portland is executing it.

The last 2 minutes there looked a lot better. Let's hope Portland comes out with better energy after the half.

No matter what the TNT announcers say, I don't think there is any legitimate home court advantage in the LA Coliseum.  

Quick Thoughts from Early in the Blazer Game

I am not particularly surprised that Oden caught a couple of quick fouls. That is just the refs saying welcome to LA.

Portland is jacking up too many jump shots, and the ball really isn't moving. Once it gets into the hands of either Outlaw or Aldridge the whole arena knows a shot is going up. If that is going to be the case, Portland doesn't have a chance in this one.

I haven't seen enough to comment on the defense yet.

Look for another, more in depth post later.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More on Kittys.

So, a comment on my last post reminded me something. I posted about our new kitty a little while ago. But I forgot to tell you wonderful readers that we got another one. Specifically, we got Misha's sister since nobody else was going to take her. I couldn't stand the idea of having her go feral, or be turned over to the county shelter. We have a good shelter, but they are very full.

So we have two kittys now. We (really, I) named the new one Sierpinski, though we often call her Sierpi for short. They have similar coloring patterns, except that Sierpi is black with white (it took me three tries to spell "white" right there. Not typos, just three wrong spellings...) instead of grey with white. 

Anyway, here are some photos of the two kittys. It is kind of tough to get a picture of just Sierpi on her own.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Astute, politically savvy readers know the meaning of the number 538. They also know the importance of 270. For those that might be a little behind in their high-school civics 538 is the number of electoral votes for a presidential election, 270 is magic number to move to White House.

I have been watching this election shape up for a long, long time. I may not be the political junkie that some of you out there are, but I find presidential politics to be darn interesting. In furtherance of that, and with a healthy thanks to my boy Paul, I have been cruising around a pretty awesome new site.

Some of the numbers there are pretty encouraging for someone of my personal leanings. But more interesting for me is that nobody in the news seems to be looking or talking about the numbers in this much detail. Now, I am not a statistical genius. In fact most of my knowledge in statistical analysis comes from a few college classes a growing love affair with in-depth statistical analysis in a sports context. That said, based on my somewhat limited knowledge, the methodology here looks quite solid. I understand sports announcers not digging into SABR type numbers. Most viewers don't know what to do with honest statistical analysis, and it is too tough to explain. But here, the people that watch MSNBC, or CNN are obviously fairly well informed, but nobody references numbers this in depth. Instead they use one or two polls to give them a jumping off point. It seems to me that honest, hardcore, statistical analysis of an election should have a place in the media. Alright, enough ranting about the statistical illiteracy of the populace, I do enough of that when I am talking about sports.

Small Personal Update Space:

My life is 90% boring, and I like it that way.

I just finished reading The Center Holds. It was pretty good. Not quite in the league of The Brethren, but good. I am about to start on Democracy Reborn. Let there be no doubt that I am a dork...

Only new music lately isn't that new, but if you haven't listened to Band of Horses, you should probably fix that, lest your life seem empty and grey.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oregon vs Boise State

I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on this game since I am not particularly sleepy.

But before I do, I have to drop an insanly awesome link. If you haven't heard of Hulu.com, you have problems in your life. Seriously, what do you do all day? I suppose if you live somewhere with Comcast's OnDemand, this would be of a little less interest. If, like me, your cable company doesn't have such a service, this website is pretty rockin. It seems to work like this: Get yourself a free account, watch tv shows and movies for free with fairly limited interuptions. So far I have had no freezing, skipping or caching issues, and the video quality is awesome. Did you miss Arrested Development when it was on the air, or maybe you just miss it in general? Not to fear, Hulu has the entire series. Ready to watch, for free. It is also the only place I know where you can still see the 3 part musical blog of Dr. Horrible. I shouldn't have to tell you how awesome that is.

Alright, interlude aside, how does it look for Oregon tomorrow? Well, I don't see a blow out, but I think if you played the game under these conditions 10 seperate times Oregon comes out on top 7 of them. This one may look like some old-school football. Lean on the defense and run the ball. With Oregon's somewhat green (thank god they played the backups in the first few games) QB's the goal should be to make it easy for them to succeed. And although BSU has good team speed, I don't think they will be able to completly stop the running game. I also think Oregon's defense is extremely good. Good enough to keep them in most games. Maybe not against USC in the Collesium, but good enough for just about anything else. Given that, and that BSU's QB is making his first ever college road start, I think the defense should have a pretty good game. I would be really suprised if BSU scored more than 24, and pretty suprised if they even break 20. If the Oregon O-line does it's job, and the recievers catch the balls that are thrown, I think Oregon will just about cover the spread. I am calling 28-17 Oregon. Not quite enough to cover the spread (11.5) but a winner if you took the under (o/u @55).

Go Ducks. (BTW, in 2 years Harper = very scary )

Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Update! But not much of one.

This makes me feel like I wasted my time in highschool. Ok, they probably didn't do it in the back of class, but still...

I know I should drop a post about the Ducks, but I am too drained after yestday's game.  I don't even know what I would do if there was another season like Joey's with the 5 comebacks. I don't think my heart could take it.

As for what I have been up to, not much really. I built a new parking place in my back yard. Now I have a nice flat place to park my car, which is nice. I have been doing some yardwork and watching football. That is about it. Work is good, but not particularly exciting. 

I suppose that is it for now. I am going to go eat some cereal. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

The light always seems to change a bit at this time of year. Summer has clearly faded and autumn is here. Today was certainly a warm one in the valley, but it didn't have the teeth of a true summer day. It is my favorite season of the year and it is not really even close. The breeze turns a cooler, and the light turns a little softer then that of summer. It is less the changing leaves than the changing light and breeze that marks the demise of summer for me.

And of course, with fall comes football. Games at Autzen in the long late afternoon, the changing colors of the hillside in the distance. I know the U of O is best regarded in the spring, but I always preferred it in that sweet slice of season when the leaves were changing, but the real rains were still a few weeks off. And not to sound horribly chauvanistic but I love how women look in jeans and a sweatshirt. Simple, but kind of elegant as well.

That is all I have to say for now. I should have an actual update as to what I have been upto shortly, and maybe some thoughts on the Ducks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Trial Time

So at least one reader has asked to be kept abreast of how my trials go etc. So, to the extent I am comfortable putting that type of information on the internet (and I know I have mentioned it in at least one other post) here is a report from my most recent trial.

I wasn't sure which, if any of the three trials I had scheduled would actually happen last week. It turned out to be the DUII. I won't say I was disappointed, I wanted to try this case. But there was another case set last week I also wanted to get my teeth into. That case has been re-set until September, so I tried the DUII instead.

To me this was a pretty clear-cut case, but most of the other people I have talked to seemed to think otherwise. Although part of that was the defense attorney. He comes with a reputation as a heck of DUII defense attorney (and he lived up to it). Anyway, the evidence was fairly clear cut from my seat: Some pretty bad weaving, observations from a state trooper that the defendant was under the influence of a narcotic analgesic. The trooper was trained through the DRE (drug recognition evaluator/expert) program, so his testimony was a bit better then a guess. There was also a video showing the defendant's condition (not great) and a urine test positive for a prescption narcotic analgesic. Well, there really weren't any suprises during the actual trial. The suprise was how long the jury took. They got the case at about 4:10 in the afternoon. I didn't get a verdict until almost 8:00 that night. But, I can't complain too much, I did get a guilty verdict.

That is about all there is really. As much as I love my job, it is never as exciting as it seems to sound to other people. Anyway, I am out for now, I need to listen to some Billie.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some news, some links

Time to get you all caught up on some of my doings lately. As a couple of you know I took a good bit of time off last week, and did a little traveling around the state and caught up with some good friends.

On Friday 7/11, I hooked up for lunch with Eric in downtown Portland. I really think I have been in living in Astoria too long. I didn't have too much trouble driving around downtown, but I got confused trying to walk around. All those damn tall buildings look the same. It probably didn't help that the landmarks I was looking for weren't there anymore. Once I actually made it to the rendezvous point, it was a good time.

Then that night I met up with these two questionable characters for dinner. Also a great time. Good food, some pretty good beer, and we learned that I am horrible at Boom Blox. I am pretty sure an epileptic in the midst of a full seizure would be better.

After Portland I took off for Lincoln City to hang with P and J for a few days. That is about all the travel news. I have few other things to mention though.

Work: I was pretty excited for a couple of trials this week. Unfortunately, one of them has already been bumped, and there is a good chance my other one will as well. Suck.

Cool things:

http://www.drhorrible.com/ I know most of you read Penny Arcade, so you probably saw the link to this there. If not, I guess you suck. Seriously, what is wrong with you? It is a musical super-hero movie. Joss Whedon is involved, and NPH is the star. You can watch the trailer, but it isn't as awesome as what was up over the last weekend. So hopefully, you saw what it was they had up.

http://triplea.sourceforge.net/mywiki If you were looking for a way to mess around with Axis and Allies, you could do a lot worse then this. The AI isn't great, but it isn't too bad. You can also set up email games, or online games. Not to shabby...

That is about all I have for now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Family Member

So Sam and I have added a new member to our family out here on the coast. A little over a week ago I was alerted to a new litter of kittens that had been born in the basement of a local landmark (the Flavel House). Since they would face grim chances otherwise, Sam and I decided to adopt one. We brought her home last Saturday after luring into our grasp with some tuna. She looks to be about 6-8 weeks old, and according to the vet is in perfect health. There are couple of pictures below. Oh, her name is Misha (Sam named her).

Saturday, July 5, 2008


It wasn't my idea. I want that on the record at the start. But there is no denying it now. No stopping it. Evil has come to roost in my house again and I am powerless to expel it. It started when Blizzard announced Diablo III. I started to prepare myself. I knew that in 12-18 months I would be fighting that old addiction again. What I didn't expect, what I couldn't anticipate, was Sam diving into Diablo II. I though I had time to prepare, to fortify against the attack. I was wrong. The old pull is still strong. I find myself thinking about barbarian builds. I am saved only by the inability of this laptop to install the game. I have never been more thankful that my CD drive is finicky and rarely works.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Last Blazers Post for a While

Alright, I was sitting down to drop a short draft preview and I saw something so wrong, so incongruous with my world view I had to mention it here. I just saw Bill O'Reilly, avowed conservative arguing for more regulation of a certain business. I'm still not sure what to say.

Anyway, draft day is tomorrow, and the 3rd annual pritch-slapping of the NBA has already begun. In case you haven't heard, the Blazers bought the 27th pick from New Orleans for cash consideration. This is the same kind of move that netted Portland the rights to supposed sensation Rudy Fernandez. I have a had few comments asking what I would like to see Portland do, and what I think is likely. Well, for all my thoughts are worth, here you go:

I still see Pritchard trying to move the 13th pick. I really don't see there being a player available that will be ready to step in and contribute in the way Portland really needs. Moreover, given the working plan (AKA the Cap-Space for 2009-10 Plan), Portland likely needs to move one or more of Frye, J Jack, and Webster. (For more detail see this site.) Based on that I think Pritchard is most likely to either trade up from 13, or trade for a player that fits Portland's needs.

What I would like to see: Of the three players mentioned I would prefer to see them keep Webster. I think at worst he is a legit 3-point threat that can open the floor a-la James Jones or Kyle Korver. If he continues to develop to his true potential, his ceiling is much much higher. That isn't to say I don't like Jack or Frye, I just think Webster is the more rare of the commodities. I am not as convinced as some that SF is a big need for Portland. I think Outlaw and Webster both have big potential at the 3. I am much more convinced that we need an improvement at the point. So, I guess I'm looking for Pritchard to try and pick up a quality point, but one that is comfortable without the ball. A good shooter, and a good defender with a good handle under pressure.

Other then that, given Pritchard's general MO of stocking talent, I expect to see a lot of BPA tommorrow. (And at least 2 more trades... but I am not plugged in enough to really speculate with who/for who.) I do like Heinrich a lot, but I am not a fan of contract, and that rumor seems to have died out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Advanced Statistics and the Portland Trailblazers Pt. II

I was going to start writing this post a couple of days ago, but I had a little bit of trouble coming by the numbers that I needed. Pace and efficiency stats aren't too tough to come by, but the other numbers are. Well, they are in the form I wanted them in. 82games.com (which is awesome for other reasons...) has the rebounding numbers, but only to 2 decimal places. To really compare across the whole league, the third decimal is important. So, I wound up building a spreadsheet and calculating the numbers by hand. That was before I found the table I was looking for on basketball-reference. I got lazy when it came to calculating league averages for pace and efficiency. I am sure you will cope. Well, with that out of the way, here are the numbers.

Portland League Rank League Leader League Worst League Average
Pace 89.7 29 99.7 (Denver) 87.3 (Detroit) Not Available
Offensive Efficiency 107.3 14 113.8 (Utah) 100.5 (Seattle) Not Available
Defensive Efficiency 108.4 17 98.9 (Boston 112.8 (Milwaukee) Not Available
eFG% 49.00% 16 55.2% (Phoenix) 44.3% (Miami) 49.30%
oReb% 26.70% 15 31.8% (Philadelphia) 22.1% (Miami) 26.70%
dReb% 71.80% 24 .783 (LA Clippers) 70.3% (Golden State) 73.40%
TO% 13.40% 7 11.4% (Toronto & Detroit) 16.5% (Boston) 13.00%
FT Rate 22.80% 21 27.6% (Sacramento) 18.3% (Minnesota) 23.20%

Alright, so there are the numbers. What do they mean? That is a good question. And it is a question that doesn't have an easy answer.

First, looking at pace we see something that I think we knew intuitively. Specifically Portland plays slow, deliberate basketball. Moreover, I don't see that changing a whole lot as long as B. Roy is around. But we also see that Portland is pretty efficient on the offensive end. And efficiency is the important thing.

The defensive end is another story. And, to further illustrate why pace independent statistics are important, if we look solely at opp points/game, Portland is 8th in the league. But once we take Portland snail like pace into account, we see that rather than in the top 1/3 of the league, the Blazers are really in the bottom half. I also think it is important to note that although Portland is near the middle of the league in Defensive Efficiency ranking wise, the distance between Portland and Milwaukee is pretty small.

The other two numbers that really jump out are defensive rebounding and FT Rate. I think most people recognized that Portland struggled on the defensive glass this year. This is an area Portland should look to improve on. With the addition of Oden in the middle, I am expecting some strong improvement here. A better dReb% should also help improve Defensive Efficiency. It is pretty easy to see the strength of keeping an opponent of the offensive glass.

I am less sure what to make the FT Rate numbers. Of the Four Factors, this one is generally regarded as the least important. Also, although ranked quite low, it appears there is a big bunch near the midpoint, and Portland isn't far from it. Looking at the numbers behind Portland's FT Rate, the Blazes made their foul shots at a good clip (about 76.6%), but really didn't get to the line that often. If Portland had gotten to the line as often as the league average, they would have scored almost 1.34 more points per game. Is that much of a difference? It is worth about 4 wins under the basketball Pythagorean formula*. I would say that is fairly significant.

So, did any of this really communicate information that wasn't clear to somebody just watching the season? I am sure some of it was clear. But if you didn't dig into these numbers, you may think that Portland didn't have much trouble on defense, or that the lack of defensive rebounding wasn't particularly crucial. Either of those beliefs could lead to bad moves as it comes time to build the team for next year.

*In case you are not familiar with it, one of the first big advances in sports statistical research was the so called Pythagorean Theorem of Baseball, or Pythagorean Records. It seems almost a truism to say that your win/lose record is going to be determined by the number of runs(or points) you score and the number you give up. However, a little research showed that a teams winning percentage in baseball is closely tied to: runs scored^2/(runs scored^2 + runs allowed^2). It turns out if we tweak the exponent a little we get an even better fit. The same can be said for NBA Basketball. The generally agreed upon formula for basketball is: Pythagorean Expectation % = Tm pts^14/(Tm pts^14+Opp pts^14).

It should be noted that Portland exceeded it's Pythagorean Expectation this year by about 3 wins. Anecdotally it would seem this would be due to performing better then expected in close games, and losing a few more blow-outs then they won. I haven't taken the time to examine this, and I won't now as this post is getting a bit long.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Modern Basketball Statistics and the Portland Trailblazers (Part 1)

So, those of you that have had more than a beer or two with me lately know that for the last year or so I have become intrigued with the so called sabremetrics (or statistical) approach to looking at baseball performances. My interest in this topic has been fired by the Seattle Mariners blog community. It turns out that the two biggest blogs covering the Mariners both take a decidedly statistical approach to analyzing baseball performances. From there I started thinking about and looking into what work has been done in this realm for other sports. This post is a discussion of the new thinking as it applies to the Portland Trailblazers.

Before discussing where the Blazers are and where they could be going, it would be helpful to give a basic description of what new statistics I am talking about and why things like points per game should become obsolete in the near future much as ERA has.

Some of the my favorite work to date has been done looking at offensive and defensive efficiency. The concept is this: Basic statistics measure how many points a team scores and how many points a team gives up. But, these numbers doesn't exist in a vacuum, and teams that score fewer points don't necessarily have worse offenses. If a team is more deliberate in it's offense, if it uses more of the shot clock each trip down the floor, that team will have fewer overall possessions then a team that shots quickly (like the Suns of the last couple of years). Even a team that is efficient in terms of how it uses it's possessions may score fewer points in a game than a less efficient, but faster team.

Since a game is of a defined length (48 minutes in the NBA) it isn't too difficult to calculate the number of possessions per game a team gets (See here: http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/glossary.html for the formula)* Once we know how many possessions a team has in an average game we can look at how many points per possession a team generates. Although this could be a useful measure, most sites extrapolate out to points scored per 100 possessions to compare across teams. This is useful not just to see how efficient an offense is, but it can also be used as a measure of team defense. Looking at offensive and defensive efficiency will give you a basic measure of a teams health.

Although there are other advanced statistics that bear discussion, today I am going to talk about The Four Factors. This is a concept advanced by Dean Oliver in his book Basketball on Paper. Now, this discussion should come with the caveat that I haven't read that book yet. As such, this discussion will be somewhat cursory. The idea is that a basketball game can be broken down into (shocked face) Four Factors:

  1. Shooting

  2. Rebounding

  3. Ball handling

  4. Getting to the free throw line.

This may sound a little simplistic, but it should be noted his work was good enough to get him a job with the Seattle Supersonics and the Denver Nuggets as a full time statistical analyst. Since I am starting to run out of time, tonight I will cover the basics of the four factors and the simple, but more useful statistic.

1) Shooting

When talking about shooting, normal FG% isn't enough. Specifically it fails to account for the added importance of a 3 point field goal. Since a three is worth 50% more than a two, we need to use a waited percentage. This number is generally referred to as “effective field goal percentage” or eFG%. Simply put eFG = (fgm + .5*3fgm)/fga.

2) Rebounding

Once again per game stats are insufficient to measure how well a team does. Per game stats don't account for the number of rebounds that are available in a given game. The better measure is offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. These numbers are fairly self explanatory.

OReb% = OReb / (OReb + Opp DReb)

DReb% = DReb / (DReb + Opp OReb)

3) Ball Handling

Rather then just looking at pure turnovers per game, we can use a possession based statistic: Turnover % = Turnovers / Possession.

4) Free Throws

This one is a little more strange. Although we could just look at FTA or FTM, its always better to take into account the pace of the team you are talking about. Most researchers look at FTM/FGA and dub this “free throw rate”.

None of these stats is the be all end all, and all statistics can be effected by factors that aren't necessarily what we are trying to measure. Alright, it is getting late tonight. Sometime tomorrow or later this week I will drop a post discussing what these numbers say about Portland and where they need to improve.

*Basketball reference is an awesome site. If you like basketball and/or statistics, it is a site you can lose a lot of time at. Their formula is quite good, but also a bit complex. If you need a short version FGA + TO + ~.5 FTA – ORB will get you close, but it isn't particularly exact.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shooting Fish in a Barrel?

I am aware that some journalists and newspaper publishers argue that a columnist's job is to stir the pot, provoke discussion and sell papers. And if the columnists at the Oregonian did that, I don't think I would have nearly as many complaints. Now, the Oregonian is not widely known as a home for brilliant, erudite columnists and I don't expect that to change any time soon. But damn it, the Oregonian is the State's biggest daily newspaper. The fact that I see better reasoned argument in the Daily Astorian is frightening.

Here is the column that has me irked this evening. (Lucky for me I don't have a big enough readership to worry about driving up Mr. Duin's statistics by linking him.)

I want to make two things clear at the outset. First, as just about everyone reading this knows, I am a Duck Sports fan. I own season football tickets. Second, I agree the U of O needs to significantly renovate it's residence halls. But the basis of Duin's column isn't research, or reasoned argument. He throws out short, sound-bite style paragraphs, tosses cheesy innuendo at the University and chooses to blame a popular scape-goat in the academic realm: athletics.

It seems that about 800 incoming freshman at the U of O have been told there will not be space for them in the "residence halls" (as I no longer work for Campus Housing, I will be calling them "dorms" from here on out). He then points out the recent spending on the U of O's new basketball arena. It's clear that he sees these two as not just happening at the same time but as a cause and effect, though he won't come right out and say it.

Perhaps most galling to me is the lack of context of the current housing issue on campus. My freshman year (that would be 1999-2000) there were so few students (not just freshman) in the dorms that an entire hall in Bean was closed after the first month of the year (it had briefly housed freshman that were waiting to rush and then moved into a frat/sorority house). My sophomore year, there was talk that there wouldn't be enough students living on campus to keep Earl Hall open. An entire hall. There were open rooms in the UI (now Barnhardt hall). It was easy to buy a double room and use it as a single. A large number of incoming freshman were choosing to live off-campus because, they told me, it was cheaper. Duin makes no effort to discuss what the living situation has been in years passed or how it has changed recently.

On top of failing to discuss the recent changes in housing demand (or investigating a root cause), Duin fails to mention that the U of O opened a new dorm this past year. Presumably such information would get in the way of laying the blame for this on the stoop of the "pampered athletes and boosters." This doesn't even take effort to discover. It is a huge new building, right there on campus. They took out the outdoor tennis courts to build it. Instead he leaves the impression that the U of O is spending all of its resources on new arenas and leaving these freshmen to freeze.

On the other side of the issue, Duin neglects to discuss or mention the baseball stadium that is scheduled to break ground this winter. Frankly, I can think of no explanation other then shear sloth and shoddy reporting (columnizing?). A ready-made bolster to his argument is left rotting in the dustbin. Did he consider his argument too airtight to need a supporting point?

I know it is easy to Monday-morning quarterback these things. I'll admit I haven't dug in and researched the issue. But I am also not paid to do so. This is Duin's job, his chosen profession. If I took a case to trial with this little research and preparation I would deserve to be disbarred.

I can't speak to Duin's qualities as a human, or even the majority of his other writing, but this column is crap. It adds nothing to the important discussion of the needs of higher education in this state and the spending priorities of this "state run" school. This is an important issue that deserves well researched and well reasoned positions. Duin adds nothing to the pot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quick Update

Once again I have let it go too long between posts. I don't have a whole lot of time at the moment either, as Sam and I are about to grab some pizza.

Sam and I are doing well. We are both plugging away with work and things and getting started taming the yard here at the house. I have a DUII trial tomorrow. It should be a pretty good one. As I have discussed before, I don't really feel comfortable discussing specifics before the trial, but it looks better then the last couple cases I have tried.

We have had a couple of visitors come out lately from Eugene. It is nice getting to show off the house and our new hometown / county. I believe (though I hate to assume) they had a good time.

I will probably try to write something a little more in depth soon, but Sam says it is time to go.

Since most of my readers are current/recovering dorks, and many of you have significant others (or roommates) I will pass along this link. Perhaps someone can get some use out of it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Flaming Genitals

Now, I know it has been a while since my last post (Purple Nurples excluded). I have had a couple of ideas for posts to write, but I never got around to sitting down and typing them out. I guess I could, but the inspiring events are no longer fresh. Anyway, I am not going to let that happen this time! Today I have a harrowing tale for you regarding, well, flaming genitals.

It all starts with the decision to make some dinner; specifically beef and pepper stir fry. Well, I don't like my beef and peppers supper spicy, but I do like a little bit of bite. So along with the bell peppers and beef I chopped up a couple of Serrano peppers. As some of you may know (I am looking at you JT) the substance that makes anything hot/spicy is a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin is a rather sticky substance in that it isn't really water soluble (hence why drinking water doesn't help the burn). After chopping the peppers I forgot to clean my hands, and went off to eat my tasty dinner.

Here is where it gets painful. After eating dinner I was relaxing in my chair, watching the Mariners rally back from a 3-1 deficit. Sometime during the rally I got an itch. It is an itch I am going to guess most men are familiar with and any woman that has lived with a man longer than 3 months has probably witnessed. For reasons unknown to me or modern science, a man's junk just itches some days. Most days when such an itch is scratched it is a pleasurable thing. If not quite near the top of simple pleasures, scratching that particular itch is certainly in the top 50. Most days. Scratching that particular area when your hands have capsaicin on them is not pleasurable.

Let me say this. I have experienced a lot of pain in my life. I have taken several direct hits to the crotch, including on nasty kick and a surprise frisbee. I have sprained my ankle, I have bruised my ribs, I have fallen off ladders and hit my head with the claw side of a hammer. I have even knocked myself out on the desk in my room back in Henderson. I will tell you now, capsaicin on the junk is easily one of the 5 most painful things I have ever experienced. It starts as this gentle heat and you start to wonder what it is. Within 30 seconds my eyes were welling with water and I could barely breath. Worst of all there isn't a whole lot you can do. Obviously just water won't work. Capsaicin is (I think) alcohol soluble but I sure wasn't going to waste good scotch or Guiness (the only booze in the house at the moment) on my burning junk. Then I remember that the Scoville Rating of a pepper is determined by diluting the capsaicin with sugar water until there is no detectable heat left. Not remembering that dairy (i.e. Milk) could also be effective I went ahead and rinsed off with sugar water, over and over again. The heat did subside, but I was then left with another problem. You are all smart I am sure you can see what the problem was. Exciting night.

PS> I really do wish this was an April Fools joke. It is not.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Purple Nurple

That's right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the Road

As the title may suggest, I am again on the road. This week it is Salem, Oregon for a 3 day DUII enforcement training. Today was day one, so far it has been pretty interesting stuff. I am looking forward to the next couple of days.

So, since there really isn't too much news to report on my end, but I have come across a couple of links I thought I would pass along.

I haven't seen this in Astoria. Yet. I am not ruling it out.

If you read Penny-Arcade (and the news posts) you will have already seen this.

Thats all for now. Be excellent to each other.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Power of Voices

I doubt this particular bit of news found its way to too many of you out there, but Dave Niehaus was just elected to the baseball hall of fame as a broadcaster. Make no mistake this is an honor the man has earned and then some. Dave has been the voice of the Mariners since day one of the franchise.

But this post isn't exactly about how awesome Dave is, how he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Hearing about Dave, and also having read on of Canzano's better columns about the Schonz has had me thinking about the voices that define teams and sports for me. More than any specific game, any player or any heroic performance those two announcers are my childhood sports memories.

I know a couple of you out there grew up in Portland and grew up as Blazer fans. I am still a Blazer fan, and Brian Wheeler isn't bad. But it doesn't always feel like listening to a Blazer game either. The voice of Bill Schonely is so iconic to me it is hard not hearing it, even 10 years after he was run out of the organization. I know he is back doing some work for the Blazers and you can still hear a few of his wonderful phrases but so many are lost. It's almost worst hearing the few that they have as sound bites for the radio broadcast or for Standard TV commercials. Yet, every now and again, from somewhere deep in the back of my memory snippets of his calls come back.

I am thankful that Dave Niehaus is still working for the Mariners. Like Schonely, he doesn't work full games anymore, but there is couple of innings each game that he does call the play by play. I know there will come a day when he is too old to handle even the light duties he has and we will hear his last call. If I am aware of it on that day, I am sure I will feel sad, wistful perhaps. I have a feeling it won't really sink in until the next summer though. One day, when I am in my office tuning into the game I will forget that Dave is gone and expect to hear his voice, and it won't be there.

This post got a little sentimental, which wasn't my original intent. In the end, perhaps the Northwest should be happy to have been blessed with two fantastic, iconic, and long-lasting play by play announcers.

My oh my.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thoughts on Ties

So, I am not exactly what most would call a metro-sexual. If you are reading this blog, it is likely that this isn't news. At least one person has described me as “the straightest guy I know.” I am not sure that was meant as a compliment, but what the hell... I take what I can get.

All that said, I do have at least a small interest in men's fashion. Specifically, the areas of men's fashion relating to the proper fit, cut and style of suits, dress shirts and the proper way to tie a tie. To me this is only natural since I wear a shirt and tie most days. Also, show me a guy that didn't at least have some interest in knot tying as a kid. All boys love knots, I don't know why, but they do! This is an interest I have discussed more then once with one of my good friends, J.T. We have downed more than a pint talking about ties and tie knots. So what is the point of all of this?

Let me give you a little background first. As discussed in the paper, and later their book “85 Ways to Tie a Tie” given certain assumptions there are only 85 ways to tie a tie (excluding mirror images). To those of you interested in the basics, look here, for a more in depth look, start here.

After careful review of the literature, it seems to me (unless I am seriously misreading this information) my two favorite tie knots are not amount those considered among the “13 useful knots.” I find this deeply disturbing. I started tying these knots in the mistaken impression that they were a Windsor and a Half-Windsor. As far as I can tell, this was due to some bad information on the web and my misreading of some of what was out there. That said I think both of these knots look just fine. I am not the kind of guy that needs marching orders for everything, and I am certainly not going to stop using the knots, but I find it interesting that these knots aren't on the list.

For those of you that might be interested, here they are (using the notation most commonly used) Maybe I am just not reading the symbols and tables right...

My version of the “half-windsor:”

Li, Co, Li, Ro, Li, Co, T

This knot is a little asymmetrical, but not overly so. Really, I think it makes a nice compliment to a well tailored suit. It is not my everyday knot, but some days when I am feeling slightly off kilter myself it is quite nice.

My version of the windsor:

Li, Co, Li, Ro, Ci, Ro, Li, Co, T

This is my everyday knot. This knot is quite symmetrical and makes a nice, medium sized triangle. It is neither as large as a try windsor, nor as difficult to tie. I feel it fits better in most shirt collars (especially button down collars) than a true windsor.

I don't know. Maybe I am way off base. For those of you out there that wear ties, or have an eye for such things, tell me what you think.

Also... for the cooks out there, this site is awesome.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Exciting Saturday Night

Exciting! By which I mean sitting at my dinning room table writing a post while my girlfriend sits at the other end play World of Warcraft. I do have cookies though. And cookies are awesome. Alright, so I am figuring this post will be mostly an update as to what we have been up to. After that I will probably go back to intermittent silence punctuated with some rambling sports posts and other half formed thoughts.

First, Work!

I am still with the DA's office. If I haven't mentioned it, we recently (within a couple of months) moved into completely remodeled offices. It hard to describe the improvement, but let me try. When I started I had an 8x6 (give or take) office with a window. Pretty swank! Until you realize it wasn't in the DA's office. It was out the back door, kind of set off from everything else. It looked a lot like a broom closet door. Then the workers got started remodeling the 3rd floor of the courthouse where our offices had been. So we moved into some temporary digs on the 2nd floor (near the elk and deer heads). My "office" was a former file room that I shared with 2 other people. It was narrow enough I could touch both walls when I stood in the middle, and maybe 15 feet long. Anyway, short story long, my new office is awesome.

Really, work in general is pretty good. I have a pretty good handle on my caseload at this point and it feels easier and easier to keep all the strands in the old duder's head. This month is pretty light. It doesn't look like I have any trials set this month. I am going to a DUII enforcement conference at the end of the month. Being the giant dork that I am that should be pretty fun. March is shaping into a busy month on the trial calender. I will try to let you all know how that goes when I can.

Side note: The Girlfriend is starting a new job on Friday. We are excited. There may even be covert jig dancing. (Free associated note: An undercover officer infiltrating the mob actually used the last name of Covert. And they never suspected him...)

Second: Non-Work! (A broad topic, but I couldn't really think of other ways to break it down.)

I am working my way through FF XII when the mood strikes me. I am fairly impressed with it. I like it more than FF X to be sure. I never could get into that one.

I am also doing a bit of reading. I got started on the Three Kingdoms thanks to an awesome Christmas gift from Paul. It is fairly dense and it is taking time to make a dent. But it is good so far. I have also been reading my way through the entire transcript of the Rosenberg trial. I am not sure why I decided to do it. I remember reading a short news article about a motion (Petition actually,) to unseal the Grand Jury records on the case. Then I just decided, what the hell, the transcript is available in a nice handy .pdf, why not read it.

That is about it for leisurely pursuits at the moment. The weather hasn't been good enough for much outdoor activity out here. I don't mind getting wet, but when its wet, cold and windy I tend to stay inside. I watch a little TV, but nothing to exciting.

I think I want to subscribe to a couple of the criminal law journals that are out there. I have had a couple of ideas for scholarly articles, but nothing with any real creative/scholarly force behind it. I have been thinking maybe if I dig into some of the literature that is out there I might find a little more energy for it.

Closing - The house.

I will spare you a lengthy discussion of the plumbing ordeal from the last 2 weeks. The important thing is that now we can do dishes.

But maybe even better then the clean dishes: The house is, for all intents and purposes DONE!
There will always be a couple of little projects to attack, but it is done. Feel free to check out the pictures below. Also, if any of you (that is the "yous" that I actually know) want to come for a visit there is a functional and furnished guest bedroom. Day visits also rock.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

First Post in 2008

Hello again and welcome to a new year. I know I have been a little lax in the whole posting side of this blog thing. Which, I guess is the only side of the whole blogging thing. And while there are some interesting things out there that I would like to post about (including a response or 2 to some of Syd's most recent thoughts), something has come up which I feel demands attention.

I am going to start with a disclaimer before I launch into this. I have a standing bet with a friend about who will win each of the major party definitions. In the race relevant to the discussion (diatribe) I am about to launch, I win a meal if Obama wins the primary.

As some people might know, today as the Nevada Caucuses. It seems Iowa isn't the only state using this strange system. This really isn't that crucial of a state in the grand scheme of things. A candidate (democrat) needs 2,025 delegates to win the nomination. Nevada (not counting any applicable super delegates) was worth 25. So, in terms of actually moving closer to the nomination Nevada is not that important. However, it is the first state with a significant minority voting bloc. Additionally in a primary, perhaps more then any other form of combat or competition momentum is king. Headlines and news get votes.

Now, with all that said, the results of the Nevada Caucus are as follows:

Clinton: 12 Delegates, 51% of the actual vote.
Obama: 13 Delegates, 45% of the actual vote.
Edwards: 0 Delegates, 4% of the actual vote.

Based on those results who do you call the winner? I don't feel the need to get into a debate about the substance of any given candidate, but to me this is more a matter of honest reporting.

Is the person that got more votes? Or the person that actually won more delegates?

Now, I was as upset as anybody that Gore won the popular vote but lost the actual election. That said, if you are the NY Times, the LA Times or the Washington Post, what headline would be an actual HONEST report of the news?

Clinton scores election win. (LA Times, subhead to McCain's win...)
McCain Clinton capture tough wins.
Clinton, Romeny win Nevada.

It would seem 3 of the largest newspapers have chosen to go with the popular vote, despite its clear irrelevance. This is the same as writing "Gore wins!!" the day after the 2000 election was decided (I know there was a lot of confusion with the 2000 election, but I think you get my point. I could try to think of some other more amusing comparisons, but I don't have the energy tonight). Given the importance of headlines, of momentum and of looking like the inevitable winner how do you think this will effect the upcoming primaries in other states? The answer seems clear to me.

I am not sure I am ready to accuse all three papers (or most other news media) of having an agenda. I will say I find it unfortunate that they have all chosen to run the story this way.

Feel free to post your own thoughts below.