Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top Five True Freshman Seasons

I added some content to Black Shoe Diaries today on SBN.

I hope I am not violating the rules of their use by linking to it from here.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


I made the decision when I came home for the holidays to only bring my phone and just type these posts up and upload them that way. However, it does lead to me having to type a lot on a much smaller screen with only my thumbs. I am not sure if I am secretly better with this keyboard though. Maybe I should somehow have tech guys at work hook me up with an iPhone style keyboard for work- it would possibly make me more effective. 

I am somewhat amazed that Google has created really effective tools for being able do these from the cloud. I have been typing all my posts first on google docs. Even though I do have Microsoft Word on my laptop- it's much harder to move between devices. I guess I could potentially use Dropbox to transfer my documents, however, I don't know if I could get Word on my phone for free. I think perhaps the latest version of Office 360 works similar to how the Google docs and sheets work- but I don't have a subscription to that. 

I know Microsoft has been working hard to reinvent their applications in order to compete with free solutions that people now have access to. In fact, I hope that whoever ends up with the Quicken software is able to follow a similar path. Currently the latest version of Quicken (2016) was released last week, but,  back in August, Intuit announced they would be selling their Quicken product. It makes sense- as Quicken is basically a desktop application with a very limited mobile presence. There is an app to reach your information, and you can enter some basic transactions from your phone, but it needs to be routinely accessed on a real computer several times a week in order to actually work. 

Intuit already has a similar personal finance cloud based product in place called Mint, so it call sell it lower revenue product Quicken, and no longer have to deal with supporting the product that users seem to love and hate all at the same time. My hope is the new owner can replicate what Microsoft has done for its Office product- making the Quicken product a more subscription based tool that automatically updates. Clearly the ideal would be for Quicken to be somehow like these Google applications which are available for use for free, but I don't see a company purchasing Quicken only to turn around and make it available only so it can sell ads in the margins. 

The greatest thing about Quicken currently is that you can keep 100% of your financial information offline if you would like. It can function on a computer that never connects to Internet and function. In addition, your information is kept by you, which clearly has its pros  and cons. I have no idea if using the internet based personal finance tools like Mint and Personal Capital mean you actually own your own financial information. I realize that may sound a bit preposterous, but if it can be ruled that you do not own your email if it is held on third party servers, can the same be said for finance information held in a similar manner? I guess the important technicality here is hopefully the software only accesses bank information, but does not host it. With Quicken, you keep your information on your computer, and back it up to hopefully some other location you also own. 

All that being said- since maintaining your financial information is important, and the best product available to accomplish it is currently in a state of flux- I would suggest getting the 2016 variant while it's still is maintained by its original company. Then we can cross our fingers and hope Google buys it and makes it as easy to use across multiple devices as this blog is. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving, and were able enjoy your time with turkey, friends and family. I have been thinking of fully embracing the throwback Thursday concept- and relate a story of the Army I can gleen from my memories, journal and green book. So here’s a quick one for the holidays. 

I don't have to many specific Thanksgiving memories - but one I do remember is spending a Thanksgiving outside of FOB McHenry in Iraq. The mission for the day was not an actual real mission, but instead my platoon sat just outside the FOB to ensure that the insurgents didn't mortar the thanksgiving dinner the brigade commander was having while he deigned to “visit the troops down range” - or whatever the hell he thought he was doing. It was a super fun time knowing I wasn't accomplishing jack shit but letting Bastogne 6 dine in peace. A solid use of assets. Instead of winning the hearts and minds of the population- we sat 300 meters from the FOB and stared at it. Happy Thanksgiving Warpigs!


The Olympics are next year- and USA Basketball is looking pretty good after watching Paul George go off last night. Due to his injury last year during the World Cup (I think that is what they are calling that FIBA tournament) he is actually the only player guaranteed a roster spot so far. There was a camp over the summer and I believe most of the players invited fulfilled their obligation to in order to be considered for next year's Olympic team. Projecting next summer’s team is probably even more a fool’s errand that yesterday's forecasting of the NBA’s finalists, but let's talk about how Team USA should walk to a gold medal. 

With Paul George being in, and Lebron probably being pressured by the public to most likely play, those are two great starts. Carmelo should get one more run and has really played his best basketball as a Team USA member. Last summer both of the Splash Brothers were in the team, and I see no reason why they shouldn't be brought back. Clearly there will be a log jam at certain positions and Klay might seem like a stretch. But his defense on the perimeter is really helpful in the international game. The biggest logjam is most likely at point guard. Chris Paul has won a gold medal, and John Wall has not- both may not make the trip in 2016. Kyrie Irving may have been the best player in last year's tournament- I think he won the MVP. I think the final point guard goes to Westbrook, but I think I would prefer Wall. 

That's seven guys (of twelve)- and we haven't really talked Durant, Anthony Davis, or bigs. The question for Durant is health. If he makes it through this season (he has already sat a few games for a quad or hamstring injury) I think he will want to play in Rio. The bigs also get a bit logjamie. Last summer Boogie really dominated against some international teams, just playing volleyball at the rim (so did Kenneth Faried, but I don't think he's a real consideration this time around). The issue is wings are more valuable in the international game - so you don't carry too many bigs. I think a three man rotation of Anthony Davis, Boogie, and Andre Drummond makes Team USA. 

In the past, Andre Iguodala has played a key role as the lock down defender on the team. I don't think it him this time around, and although Paul George could fill this role, I think it why you take Kawhi Leonard. On teams like this - you can have a guy who doesn't need to contribute on offense- yeah I am saying this about a guy who is scoring over twenty points a game for an 11-3 team, but bear with me- and Kawhi will make every shaky ball handler look befuddled and will generate easy transition buckets. 

That's your twelve- the three point guards, three bigs and six wings. I am generally certain that the any combination of the twelve guys mentioned above (or toss in a few others that I didn't mention like say James Harden) - and any Team USA utilizing pace and space will walk to a good medal. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Apparently no one has really taken notice- but the Spurs, a preseason favorite to win the championship, are 11-3. That's a really good record (duh) but it is especially good for a team that is trying to integrate a new player who doesn’t exactly do what the Spurs have become known for over the past couple years. Basically, lost in the hoopla of the Warriors going undefeated to start the season with a small ball lineup they roll out out at the end of games, the Spurs are trying to go a bit more “traditional” and so far are being successful.

Currently, these two teams seem to be on a collision course to meet in the Western Conference finals next spring- although I think the Spurs are more likely to lose if they get the draw with Clippers as opposed to the Warriors. The two early season matchups between the Warriors and the Clippers would lead you to believe the Warriors would that be able to handle the Clippers in a seven game series, whereas the Spurs may struggle with the same matchup. Actually the past couple sentences may just be a whole lot of recency bias, but, I think, if the Spurs are trying to play the traditional two big lineup like the Clippers, the younger more athletic team should have the advantage. However, since the rest of Western Conference appears to have taken a step back, or seems to be on a lower tier than the Spurs and Warriors, let's predict in November that these are the teams that will meet to play Cleveland in the final. Granted, there are 60 some odd games remaining plus the playoffs before we get to that point, but I feel pretty comfortable that two of those three teams will be in the finals. I assume people in OKC just got really mad, but no one from there reads me, so I'm unconcerned about it.

I am going to assume that the Warriors beat the Lakers tonight (Note: yep, that happened) and therefore now have the best record to start a season. In addition, they had a historically great regular season last year as well, which they obviously followed up with a championship. I can’t believe that the rest of the league spent summer and fall pissing and moaning about how “lucky” the Warriors got- it was really just an exercise in poking the bear that so far has only paid dividends for one team - Golden State. Maybe it's the baby face that Curry has that lulls the rest of the league into thinking they can talk shit and he wouldn’t get all annoyed and come back better; or maybe it is because we have never seen this type of player before that the rest of the league wasn't sure how a player like him could actually improve off last year’s performance- that the rest of the league expected regression (he did hit the most 3’s in history last year) as opposed to improvement; or maybe the league unexpected this young-ish team to not handle success and party down all summer- so the league tried to take a gigantic dump on the Warriors championship in August and September. I have loved how this has worked out- a team that is basically missing it's coach is unleashing jump shot hell on every team they've come across, and the rest of us are the winners for it.

At the other end of the spectrum- I am thinking of going to see the opposite of Warriors - Spurs on Tuesday- the Lakers and the Sixers. Currently, StubHub has seats for like $25. Which is actually high for the Sixers, last week the Pacers were in town and tickets were going for $6 a pop. The Sixers - apparently pun intended- rewarded their fans by trying to put six men on the court at the same time, one for dollar they hypothetically spent. I guess that means the Lakers are still a bit of a draw, despite big in the cellar of the Western Conference, much like the Sixers are in the Eastern Conference. I assume that that everyone Lower Merion wants to get their last look at Kobe, thus driving the tickets to such ridiculously high prices.

(“Editor’s” Note: I realized yesterday that it is better to write at night, then sleep on it for a night, and do some proofreading in the morning, hopefully that will help improve the quality of the product.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Sundays are usually the day I get all the crap I haven’t done all week finally done. The trip to the grocery store, laundry, and the cleaning I have noted that needs to be done - all finally gets crammed into one day so I can don’t have to do it during the week after work.  

I think Sundays for this space will be similar - there will be stuff here but it will be of even lower quality than the during the week stuff, which, let’s be honest, hasn’t set the highest bar so far. But It think it will be a good place to throw out some interesting things.

Since I am officially a “cord cutter”, I typically only watch whatever free football comes in on my antenna. Slight problem with that is that I can’t seem to get Fox or ABC on the ten buck antenna.  am, for now, assuming it is because the antenna is not near a window, however,  anyone with suggestions beyond that- please feel free to leave a comment in you have experience using good ‘ol free TV. Further complicating matters, CBS gets blacked out for football when the Eagles are on due to being located in the “home territory” or whatever. So no football was on in the man cave during the 1:00 game slot today.

Why am telling you this long story? It is to justify why football wasn’t on today and I can make a slightly off the farm recommendation if you are looking to binge watch something. I spent yesterday and today rewatching some Red vs Blue. If you haven’t heard about the show, it is based on the video game Halo. Have no fear if you have never played it, neither have I. And I guess I shouldn’t say “based on” - the creators of the show literally filmed the game to make the show and added voice overs. I think it is a pretty great concept - and the show is pretty hilarious.

In addition to the webpage above, the is a YouTube Channel now for the show, and most of the seasons have been edited together and put on Hulu- which is what I was watching today instead of football.

Ok folks, lets hope we are ready for the week.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Today we are going to try out an old Bill Simmons staple- the running diary. Hey, he isn’t writing anymore, I figure all his old things are up for grabs. And he hasn’t used this particular gag in years, first moving to the “retro diary” before completely forgetting it. In theory, twitter has replaced this particular type of writing, but let’s bring it back for PSU - Michigan, a matchup that sounds better than maybe it actually will be.

Most likely Michigan is too talented and experienced for this particular Penn State team. Penn State is coming off a bye, and it is Senior day - these things matter in college ball. So let’s see what happens…

12:07 - PSU gets the ball first, so we can probably go three and out right off the bat.

12:08 - Remember the name Chris Godwin, he will be a good possession receiver in the NFL. He makes tough yards, and in a better scheme, he would be open more often. And Michigan gifts PSU a first

12:10 - BOOOM- there goes Barkley all the way to the ten yard line, need to cash this in for the a TD immediately. So of course, PSU goes to the wildcat, and goes nowhere, ugh. (I would have liked it if it worked better)

12:12 - UGHhhh - three straight running plays into the teeth of the defense. And PSU only gets a field goal after an absolutely huge run. 3-0 PSU, decent start.

12:16 - Thankfully Julius is back to doing kickoffs, and in an absolutely amazing shocker- a holding call is made on the kickoff. I’m shocked. Also, Jim Harbaugh is still super annoying. I am sure we will see him four thousand times this game.

12:20  - It is still amazing how open receivers are against PSU’s defense and how covered PSU receivers are against every other defense. Michigan just got a first down to a guy wide open between zones.

12:22 - third and 9 - PSU gives up 39, awesome. Also, sack leader Carl Nassib wasn’t in for that play, which makes zero sense. And by sack leader - I mean the guy who leads the nation in sacks, not just the team. Yeah, let’s leave him out of the game an obvious pass play. (he may no longer lead the nation after the bye week, but he was a couple weeks ago)

12:26 - TD Michigan, the soft zone looks like garbage so far. Still no Nassib and no pass rush at all for the second string D-ends. Technically Sickels is a starter, but given who he plays next to, he is terrible. 7-3 Michigan

12:31 - First down throw to no one. Two receivers run crossing routes, somehow the throw is behind both of them.

12:32 - And there's a sack - the protection had Brent Wilkerson one on one with a defensive end, that's a tight end, not a tackle. Fuck me. then motion on the o-line, and Kyle carter can’t catch a pass so we punt. Kyle Carter needs to go away. He can’t do anything on a football field that can be construed as a positive for Penn State.  So the tight ends gave up a sack and then dropped a ball on that series.

12:36- Oh - Torrrence Brown just killed the QB. yikes that was a big hit. (Still no NAssib)

12:37 - And a pick for Brandon Bell with a tough run back after the catch. The Qb never saw him.

12:37 - Weird trick play, a wildcat reverse to have Hack throw it. Nice try for the big play after the turnover. But then a third down run, goes nowhere and PSU is three and out again. This offense is such a pile of garbage. Defense back on the field so quickly.

12:49 - Defense finally gets a third down stop to start the second quarter. Apparently NAssib isn’t going to play- ABC has no inclination to let us know what is going on there. Apparently they don’t care

12:51 - Brent Wilkerson with his second catch- Kyle Carter should take notes. Meanwhile, Hack has gotten Michigan to jump three times this game- interesting wrinkle to his game.

12:52 - Hamilton runs a terrible route for a deep ball. He was running towards the middle on a go route for some reason.

12:55 - Hack takes a terrible sack after Michigan gifts PSU a first down. He needs to throw the ball away more. UGH. Followed by a run up the middle. More garbage offense- 3 and 19 now.

12:57 - Wow, the punters are so bad for Penn State- they routinely have punts that go twenty yards, but when we only want a twenty yard punt, they boot that shit into the end zone. How’s that college education working out out?

1:00 - That sack took PSU out of field goal range, put the defense back on the field and PSU is still losing. The is fucking awesome.

1:08 - Michigan gifts PSU a third down stop with a drop on the conversion. Meaning we get more Hack time. So far, we are 0-2 on downfield throws. Hopefully we keep taking shots- those are the best shot to loosen up the defense.

1:12 - What the fuck- another third down run on a third and five or longer…. And its for a loss of yardage. Give me more garbage offense!!

1:16 - Michigan fumbles a snap for a three yard gain, haha. Even a screw up gains yardage. - John Donovan will have Hack run that play in the second half.
1:18 - Best series for the defense so far, getting a three out and the only three yards gained... AND A BLOCKED PUNT!! -LET’S GO!!

1:23 - TOUCHDOWN to Blacknall…. the d-back had no idea where the ball was on an underthrown pass. Nce 10-7 PSU

1:26 - Defense need to not give up points since Michigan gets the ball to start the second half.

1:27 - On third and long, PSU calls timeout while the clock was stopped. I have no idea why, but I am sure the terrible clock management is to blame.

1:29 - Of course Michigan converts. On a safety blitz, they go over the top. Seems to be a theme you get Shoop’s defense on. And a couple screen passes with some terrible tackling has Michigan almost guaranteed points.

1:32 - Now more soft zone and Michigan is in the red zone. God dammit.

1:32 - And touchdown Michigan because Penn State can’t sustain success at all. I think that PSU time out was straight fucking stupid for Franklin to call. There was no reason to let them call plays from the sideline on huge third down.. 14-10 Michigan

1:35 - And the garbage offense won’t try to score in the final fifty seconds. Fuck this. You should go coach soccer if you are scoring averse.  You basically gifted your opponent a second possession in a row AND then let them off hook from having to play defense. In a one possession game- you can’t give them away. Hopefully he learns that is a bullshit approach.

2:00 - Defense starts the second half where it left off, giving up easy completions and not tackling. Good thing we didn’t try and score.

2:03 - Michigan just grinding down the field, short completions and easy runs eating up chunks of yardage. Back D-line in the game, which won’t help the pass rush that isn’t getting home consistently.

2:05 - Captain Khaki thinks PSU should be penalized more as the defense finally holds after gving up field position. PSU will start at their own five. This has happened so often- i can predict what will happen. PSU is going to either go three and out, or only get one first down, then punt. Since the punting is so weak, Michigan will get the ball, at worst, at their own forty.

2:14 -Michigan ball at their own 33, after a penalty on the punt. Of course, Anthony Zettel gives it all back on a roughing the passer penalty and jumped into the QB. This is going to get him ejected. Incredibly stupid to do. That’s his last play in Beaver Stadium. Oh- he gets to stay, I honestly think he should have been ejected by the letter of the law. Anyway - Michigan now at the 50.
2:20 - Michigan punts to a shaky handed returner and gets the ball at the ten. Fuck. I hate those pays. You don’t even have to touch the ball and we get to keep it. Instead a freshman drops an unreturnable kick. SO dumb.

2:22 - TD michigan running it right at PSU’s defense, which can’t get a break from the field due to terrible offensive players. 21-10 Michigan.

2:23 - This lead feels insurmountable. PSU under Franklin has not come back from a double digit deficit that I can remember. Thankfully there isn’t a sure handed returner that can we can use on kicks where we would prefer to not let them down us inside the five. Instead its a freshman who doesn’t catch the ball consistently.

2:26- Oh, good, more Penn State offense. Let’s see what garbage offense we can dial up. ABC can’t seem to figure out how a microphone works, they’ve twice thrown it to the sideline reporter so we can have uncomfortable silence. Good stuff.

2:28 - Captain Khaki still not a fan of the officials. Back to back penalties have gotten PSU thirty yards. and now out to midfield.

2:31 - Hack gets whacked and is out of the game for a 3-20 . Trace McSorley throws a ball to the bench. garbage offense doing work. Hack took off his helmet, he knew there was no way they were converting. Ball game.

2:34 - ABC finally lets us know Nassib isn’t playing. Meanwhile, the soft zone is getting ate up again. Michigan is on the move to really salt this game away. Unless the defense gets a turnover, I don’t see the offense going 80 yards for points anytime soon…. AND they forced the fumble!! Brandon Bell again- strip and recover.

2:39 - PSU goes three plays for no yards, and can’t signal in a play for fourth down. Hack was flipping through his wristband in confusion before calling timeout.

2:40 - But they convert on a seam route that Hack stuck on Chris Godwin, who then did some big boy football shit to wrestle the ball all the way down to the five. Trust-  Chris Godwin will do something in the NFL. He isn’t Allen Robinson, but he can be Wes Welker.

2:46 - And PSU goes backwards to open the fourth quarter, and kicks another field goal. Barkley is playing like a freshman when the hole isn’t there, trying to do crap in the backfield rather than get up field. Of course, that’s just frustration speaking - the offensive line actively gets out of the way of defenders to let them into the backfield. We have so many pulling guards that open the holes for the defenders to pour through - its ridiculous. So it's an 8 point game, but maybe the defense got a breather after that fumble recovery.  21-13 Michigan.

2:52 - Captain Khaki, still displeased with the officials.

2:55 - Three and out for Michigan. And now Greg Garrity is back to receive, hmm. PSU with ok field position. Let’s do this. Probably need two scores still in order to win.

3:03 - Hack has run for the last two first downs… the offense has come to this. Ugh… LET’S GO!

3:09 - PSU inside the ten again. Need a TD here. Come on Lions!

3:11 - And incomplete pass from the 2… And settle for a field goal, not our best play…. Somehow the ball gets just high enough to clear the crossbar. 21-16 Michigan.

3:14 - PSU has had first and goal three times, resulting in 9 points. And piss poor tackling on the kick return gives Michigan great field position. PSU can’t sustain success.

3:16 - Immediately Michigan in the red zone after the special teams and young players play shitty football. Awesome. Now without a turnover, michigan gets the three points back

3:18 - ABC with more awkward silence from the sideline reporter. The best part is they apparently think it's working.

3:20 - Michigan is going to score, it's a no brainer, Shoop just lined up with no one to the wide side of the field, but somehow just gave up a run up the middle. That formation was designed to fail. Michigan on the one

3:21 - There it is - Michigan winning this game in the red zone. 28 - 16 Michigan.Fuck

3:27 - Yeah it’s over, this Hack is done. On first down he throws to a receiver who decides looking for the ball is beneath him. Hamilton is not very good at route running, catching, or generally doing anything to get open.

3:31 - Michigan is going to take a knee and ball game - 28 - 16 Michigan. Mother shit.

Deep breath - well PSU has lost twice in a row to ranked opponents. which is probably about right for this team. They are young and really struggle to execute on a play to play basis. They have hung tough with ranked opponents. The hard thing to look at is the step the back we will take at QB next year after Hack leaves.  Next week will be another loss probably, and we will do this again.