Friday, May 16, 2014

Game of Mind Games

In 2005, my pal and fellow die-hard Packers fan, Dobber, and I went to Lambeau for the Wildcard game against the Vikings. The tickets were actually given to us, incredibly. In recent years, the Lions and Bears weren’t putting up much of a fight and the Vikings were by far our biggest division rival. The game was itself was unfortunately one of the most unforgettable in Packers’ history. Not only was it just the second home playoff loss EVER, but it was also the game in which Randy Moss mocked mooned the fans. Most of you will recall Joe Buck describing the “disgusting act.” After that, Moss was cemented as arch rival #1 (until he stunk in Oakland and Favre later lobbied for him to come to GB, temporarily splitting Packer fans’ reality).
Bad day for Packer fans.
But that’s not what I choose to remember from that game; something from pre-game, actually. Dobber and I had tailgated several blocks from Lambeau. It was annoying, but parking was free and there was more room to sprawl out in our best Al Bundy poses with a couple of suds. For the Nth time, Dobber told the story how he battled Najeh Davenport in PlayStation once (they lived in the same GB apartment complex), and we should ask him if he wants to hang out sometime. “Sure, let’s do that.” I told him, not believing it would ever happen for a second.
Sit like this once. It's fun.
Before we knew it, the lot was vacant except for parked cars. All the tailgaters had left for their seats. Sure enough, kickoff was just 10 minutes away so we slammed the rest of our beverages, packed our things up in a fury and began the long walk to the stadium. There were two other guys in the same boat. Vikings fans, clad head-to-toe in purple… our polar fan die-hard opposites. We were going to have to walk next to these guys the whole way. Ugh.

You could tell they felt the same way about us, and we were all ready to immediately exchange insults. But something strange happened – no one was taking the first shot. We just kept walking until one of us eventually asked where the other was from. Soon, we were chatting about work, life, etc. and even making genuine compliments about each other’s teams. When it was finally time to part – and I’ll never forget this – one of the guys says to us, “Part of me can’t believe I’m saying this, but good luck to you guys (the Packers).” “Same to you,” we said, shaking hands with them, chuckling at the irony of it all.

There’s a big difference between good-natured ribbing and unfiltered, unprovoked disrespect for no other reason than the jersey one wears. I have no time for these people, who I consider the equivalent of bullies. (And yes, alcohol can play a significant role in all of this, but only to a point.) With dozens of games under my belt, I’ve pretty much experienced them all, and probably have even personified them all to some degree. But I’m feeling done with that posturing BS right now. Maybe it’s as simple as reminding ourselves that we’re not the ones actually competing? Whatever the solution, I simply believe you can have an enjoyable rivalry without the pre-programmed animosity. I believe you can be a die-hard fan without being a dick about it.

Take from this what you will, if anything at all. I can only tell you the times I’ve had the chance to engage the person instead of the jersey, I’ve gotten new perspectives, had healthier conversations, and as my story illustrates, much better memories. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Your "Draft Grades" Amuse the Zang Meh Doh

“Good pick…Nice value…Reach!...Great draft!”

The Zang Meh Doh finds these generalizations amusing.

Who, or what exactly, is Zang Meh Doh?
It has been characterized as both wicked-smart and epic. Gordo Ramcyzk, 4-time league champion of his Yahoo! fantasy football league, has called it “whatever the opposite of ass-backwards is”. But enough hyperbole.

In the simplest term; in the most convenient definition, the Zang Meh Doh is a V.A.T., or Value Analysis Tool. And the Zang Meh Doh just happens to be the most innovative V.A.T. around. There’s been at LEAST three hours of actual mathematical exploration put into this already, and the formulae have been verified by our interns, Darcy and Bong Man, who have a combined 4 semesters in engineering from the University of Phoenix and Kansas Technical Institute (defunct), respectively.

Zang meaning “excellent”.
Meh meaning “average”.
Doh meaning “fail.”

WTF are you talking about? What makes the Zang Meh Doh so great?
The Zang Meh Doh is unique in that it creates a customized draft value based on three criteria of candidates: 1) Overall Valuation 2) Positional Valuation, and new for 2014! 3) Perceived Team Need. The round itself is meaningless, similar to most shows on cable.

Seriously, there’s a real formula and everything: 
These two values are then averaged to calculate the score. Anything over 100 is considered positive. A true ZANG! (excellent) is ONLY achieved when the value of the player exceeds both the overall and positional categories. By comparison, a DOH! (fail) results when both overall and positional values are subpar. As a bonus, if that pick qualifies as a perceived team need in the immediate or near future, it receives an asterisk (*).

Do not be overwhelmed! The logic is iron clad; the math bullet proof…trust me.

Last thing. I am getting the silent treatment from the Packers for access to their draft board (very frustrating), and therefore am forced to use the rankings from as listed on CBS Sports’ site.

Whatever, bro, get to the picks! How did the Packers do?
Settle. And don’t call me “bro”. I will. Here, grab my hand, and I’ll walk you through the Packers 2014 draft picks.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, taken as the 21st overall and the 2nd Safety. Against an 18 OV and 1 PV, and also qualifying as a team need, that makes the pick a true Zang! score of 159*. Ideal first pick.
Davante Adams, taken as the 53rd overall and 9th WR. Against a 59 OV and 11 PV, the pick is an 86. MEH. I would not classify WR a team need in the near term, therefore no asterisk either.
Khyri Thornton, taken as the 85th overall and 7th DT. Against a 166 OV and 16 PV, the pick is a 48*, or very close to first DOH of the draft. However, he is likely perceived to fill a void in the near-term, hence the asterisk and the MEH rating.
Richard Rodgers, taken as the 98th overall and the 6th TE. Against a 210 OV and 11 PV, the pick is a 51 and a team need. 51* is the final score. MEH.
Carl Bradford, taken as the 121st pick and the 10th OLB. Against a 54 OV and 4 PV, the pick is a staggering 237*. Mathematically the best value pick of the draft so far. Outstanding.
Corey Linsley, 161st pick/6th Center. With a 227 OV and 6 PV, the pick gets an 86* as Center is a position with a lot of uncertainty. It gets a MEH, but at this stage in the draft, that’s very a very good value-upside pick, scientifically speaking of course. 
Jared Abbrederis, 176th pick/23rd WR. With a 110 OV and 18 PV, the pick gets another ZANG score of 144 for TT and the Pack. This guy is a helluva player and going to be a fan favorite for sure.
Demetri Goodson, 197th pick/26th CB. A 247 OV and 31 PV makes Goodson a strong MEH at 82, nice.
Jeff Janis, 236th pick/33rd WR. A 211 OV and 28 PV gives Ted’s last pick a ZANG of 115. What a way to cap the draft!

Wow. This sounds promising! Can you recap the Zang Meh Doh values? KTHXBAI.
Final Zang Meh Doh Scientifically Verified Scores: 4 ZANGS, 5 MEHs, Zero DOHs.

From best draft value down, the results are as follows:
1.                Carl Bradford (237*)
2.                Ha Ha Clinton Dix (159*)
3.                Jared Abbrederis (144)
4.                Jeff Janis (115)
5.                Corey Linsley (86*)
6.                Davante Adams (86)
7.                Demetri Goodson (82)
8.                Richard Rodgers (51*)
9.                Khyri Thornton (48*)

Analysis. The Clinton-Dix pick was epically solid for both the Packers’ value and team need, but the steal of Bradford at pick 121 is just ridiculous. The Zang picks at WR of Abbrederis and Janis coupled with a very solid pick in Adams has to make fans of the offense happy. Linsley and Goodson are great depth guys, and while the Zang Meh Doh may not appear to like the Rodgers and Thornton picks, keep in mind they still qualified as MEHs.

The Zang Meh Doh has spoken! Good-day.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Is It Finally Here? Be Honest With Me.

I realize that Robert and I left you in a lurch following our last post. We didn’t call. We didn’t write…I’m sure you’ve been wondering if we are okay. You can rest assured, we are. Robert and I were at a two month LARP retreat in Rhinelander. Personally, I leveled up to Level 23 Orc Mage, with +17 Destruction Magic. I know you probably want a full recap of our time there, but I’ll save that for another day.

With our extensive network of sources, contacts, spies, and advanced surveillance equipment, we’ve heard a number of rumors indicating that the draft starts this evening. We decided that we would follow up with several anonymous* NFL general managers and scouts. They are all anonymous because, as I understand it, that’s how any information about the draft is shared. I’m not sure why this is, as I was always taught that lying is disreputable, unethical, immoral, and wrong.

Anyway, here’s what we found out:

“Does the draft begin tonight?”

·         “Well, seeing the tape, it looks like it might start tonight, but we’re gonna check in person and make our judgment from there.”
·         “Yes. Never seen a draft start like this. Really impressive. I think it will be a great start tonight. The draft is going to start tonight for a long time in this league.”
·         “No. It’s not tonight. Never was. Tonight as a start time won’t cut it, it’ll be later or earlier, but it for sure isn’t tonight.”
·         “I really enjoy the draft process and determining the start, but we don’t get into specifics about when the draft will start. We think the draft will be good for our team whenever it starts.”
·         “The draft won’t start tonight if it was the only night of the year left to start. Not happening. It’ll be bust if it starts tonight.”
·         “I’ve heard that their owner really wants it start tonight, but the coach and GM are not sold. It’ll be interesting if they start tonight.”
·         “We’ve had a start time set for weeks. We’re ready to start. We’re also open to offers for a different night to start, and we’ve definitely had some conversations about starting at a different time.”
·         “I think if some teams don’t get their start right tonight, they’re losing their jobs.”
·         “They’re going to try to move back their start time, but I really doubt they’ll have any offers.”
·         “Yes, the start time is tonight, but we’re flexible. Start time is a really fluid process, and we’ll just let the start time come to us.”
·         “They really got screwed on starting tonight due to that trade they made last year. They don’t even have a start time until the late second round. Not a way to run a franchise.”

Wow. I'm not sure what to make of all these anonymous opinions on the draft start. I guess it’s best to form your own and just tune in and enjoy the show.

Happy Draft Day, everyone.

*One side note: the Vikings’ source we spoke with wanted to go on the record, and stated, “I really have no clue when the draft is. I’ll need to ask my admin assistant.” Seriously. Neither Robert nor I felt comfortable revealing his name, for the simple reason that we believe he really was telling the truth, and it seemed cruel to announce it to the world.
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