Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ron Paul Is Right (As Usual)

Administering a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme in the private sector makes you 'extraordinarily evil.' They'll throw the book at you.

Administering a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme for the state is not only legal, it's compulsory. They'll hand you the keys to the kingdom!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

An Objective, Dispassionate and Totally Devastating Appraisal of Chris Osgood as Hall of Famer

Bill Hicks used to joke about the abortion debate thusly:

"I, ah...this abortion issue in the States is dividing the country right in half. You know, and even amongst my friends - we're all highly intelligent - they're totally divided on the issue of abortion. Totally divided. Some of my friends think these pro-life people are just annoying idiots. Other of my friends think these pro-life people are evil fucks. How are we gonna have a consensus? I'm torn. I try and take the broad view and think of them as evil, annoying fucks."

This bit reminds me of the debate surrounding Chris Osgood's Hall of Fame viability. Kevin Allen makes a pretty reasonable case for "Ozzie." On the other side, the sum of this guy's argument is that Osgood was great in that one game against Chicago so this other guy - who convincingly presents the "con" argument - can "suck it." People, how are we gonna reach a consensus?

The case for Osgood, it seems to me, revolves around three things: 1) He's a money goalie in the postseason, 2) he is popular among teammates and fans, and 3) durability and good fortune have helped him compile impressive counting stats.

Osgood's candidacy is the touchstone for another type of Hall of Fame debate: "peak" value vs. "career" value. Evaluating career value rewards good players with steady, unspectacular careers - someone like Curtis Joseph comes to mind.

Peak value looks at a player at his best: was this player ever considered one of the best at his position? Ken Dryden embodies peak value over career value - he is undoubtedly one of the greatest goaltenders ever, yet his 258 career wins (over 10 seasons) ranks only 35th in NHL history, behind such luminaries as Kelly Hrudey and Gilles Meloche.

Looked at in terms of career value, Chris Osgood presents a superficially strong case for the Hall of Fame: 389 career wins, 3 Stanley Cups, 2.47 career GAA, 49 shutouts. These credentials stack up well against some existing members (Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers). So what's with the backlash?

Through no fault of his own, Chris Osgood's achievements are seen as the product of luck and opportunism: he plays for a modern dynasty in a low scoring era, distorting his statistics in multiple ways:

1. Historically and without adjusting for context, Osgood looks far better compared to goalies from higher scoring eras (like the '80s) than he really is;

2. Because he's played the bulk of his career for some truly great Red Wings teams, Osgood's numbers look inflated when compared to his lesser supported contemporaries.

Let's take a closer look:

Chris Osgood's peak value would represent one of the lowest of any Hall of Fame goalie:

Black Ink Test (led NHL) = 2: Wins (1996), GAA (2008)
Gray Ink Test (top 10 in NHL) = Wins (6x), GAA (4x), SV% (3x), SO (5x)

Major Awards:
  • Zero Vezina Trophies
  • Zero Conn Smythe Awards
  • Zero 1st Team NHL All-Stars
  • One 2nd Team NHL All-Star
We would expect a Hall of Fame caliber goalie to perform significantly better than league average in many key metrics, such as SV%. Over the course of Chris Osgood's career (1993-2009), the NHL SV% among all goalies (Osgood and empty net goals excepted) is .905%.

Chris Osgood's SV% over that span: .906%.

*(A concession: SV% is quantitative, not qualitative. I'm presuming for argument's sake that SV% is support-neutral and intrinsic to a goalie's skillset. This is unlikely but we have to hope it evens out in the long run. There is no real way to isolate or control for shot quality or defensive support based on team/environmental factors. So it's probably the best we can do for now. If anything, this presumption helps Osgood, because theoretically the Red Wings would limit the opposition's quality scoring chances.)

So we've established that Osgood's SV% is roughly league average, which should make it obvious why his other numbers are so dazzling: it's all about the support of his talented teammates. And that can be measured by how many shots on goal he's faced compared to league average.

For his career Chris Osgood has faced 26.2 shots on goal per 60 minutes (SOG/60). The NHL average over that same span is 28.6 SOG/60. The difference may seem minor but the impact is huge when stretched over his entire career. Osgood's teams have saved him approximately 1,622 shots on goal over the course of his career vs. the league average environment.

*(For the math-obsessed: Osgood has faced 17,770 shots in 40,683 minutes = 26.2 SOG/60. In those same minutes, the goalie in the league average environment of 28.6 SOG/60 would face approximately 19,392 shots = 1,622 more shots.)

Assuming his save percentage remained steady at .906%, this means he would stop about 1,470 of those extra shots - tacking another 152 goals onto his career record. So, his sterling 2.47 career GAA would balloon to 2.70 - which is exactly league average over that span (1993-2009). All things being equal, shouldn't we expect more than league average from a Hall of Fame goalie?


Osgood's adjusted GAA (2.77) ranks 38th in NHL history - behind such notables as Andy Moog, Rick Wamsley, and Pete Peeters. Again, does this sound like a Hall of Famer?

Chris Osgood owes the bulk of his Hall of Fame argument to the support of his Motor City teammates. The talent difference between him and keepers like Tom Barrasso, Rogie Vachon and Mike Vernon is whisker thin, but it is Osgood who is likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, not them. To some that makes him undeserving. But as William Munny famously remarked, "Deserve's got nuthin' to do with it."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Does History Tell Us About the Pens-Wings Rematch?

Not a whole hell of a lot, but I spent like an hour researching this, so might as well share:

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings face off in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final. The questions you didn't ask, but I answered, are:

The 2009 Cup Final marks the 13th rematch (consecutive seasons only) in NHL history. In the previous 12, the teams split 5 times, one team took both series 7 times:

-Splits: 1921-22 Ottawa/Toronto; 1923-24 Ottawa/Montreal; 1932-33 Toronto/New York; 1955-56 Montreal/Detroit; 1983-84 New York Islanders/Edmonton.

-Sweeps: 1948-49 Toronto over Detroit; 1954-55 Detroit over Montreal; 1957-58 Montreal over Boston; 1959-60 Montreal over Toronto; 1963-64 Toronto over Detroit; 1968-69 Montreal over St. Louis; 1977-78 Montreal over Boston.


Very well, naturally. The 2009 Wings are the 39th Cup winner to return to the Finals - the previous 38 are 25-13 (.658%). These teams are defending champions with good reason.


Twelve officially, with one huge asterisk: this happened much more often in the league's early years. Fewer teams = more opportunities to win. Here's the complete list:

1919 Montreal Canadiens
1922 Toronto St. Patricks
1923 Ottawa Senators
1924 Montreal Canadiens
1927 Ottawa Senators
1933 New York Rangers
1943 Detroit Red Wings
1950 Detroit Red Wings
1953 Montreal Canadiens
1956 Montreal Canadiens
1968 Montreal Canadiens
1984 Edmonton Oilers

That's a grim trend if you're a Pens fan. In the Expansion Era (1968 on), only two teams have lost the Cup Final one year and won the next, and the last time it happened Chris Chelios was a rookie (no, really).


The data isn't quite conclusive but the Pens have a bit of history working against them. Of course, I'm rooting for them, especially since this Thrasher fan would love to see Marian Hossa's "can't-beat-'em-join-'em" bandwagoning backfire so hilariously. And with apologies to the economically depressed and Lions-saddled people of Detroit, few things would make me happier than seeing legions of insufferable, trash-talking Wings fans STFU for a change.

Go Pens!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What Michael Phelps Should Say

It's really a shame that Michael Phelps has apologized and groveled for "forgiveness" after being photographed hitting a bong. I understand why, but a golden opportunity was missed, yet again.

Just once, I'd like to see someone in Phelps' position defiantly state: "You know what? No. I won't apologize. Drug prohibition, and the way it is prosecuted, is unjust and inhumane. Its goals have nothing to do with public safety or morality; it's all about enriching the prison-industrial complex, empowering increasingly militarized and hyper-aggressive police forces, and protecting Big Pharma from safe, natural, and cheap competition. The drug warriors should be the ones apologizing to US."

But what kind of message does this send to THE CHILDREN?!?

"1. FUCK the children. Not literally, of course, that's disgusting. But it's not their world, it's ours. That's why we're the grown-ups. We get to do things that are totally inappropriate for kids, like drink, screw, and stay up past 10 PM. Isn't that why we put up with the horrors of puberty, adolescence, and high school? To reap the rewards later? Or was it all just to work in corporate cubicles, pay taxes, and take on a mortgage?

"2. The most important thing to teach children is the capacity to think critically for themselves. I've thought about the reasons for marijuana prohibition and found them wanting. Actually, no - 'utter bullshit' would be more fitting. And since I also believe that self-ownership is inviolable, and that there are higher virtues than passive obedience to unjust laws (which are often but the tyrant's will), I have nothing to apologize or be forgiven for.

"Ultimately, the message it sends to children is that they are endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How they choose to exercise those rights, so long as they don't hurt anyone else, is up to THEM."

Seems like a message a 'free country' could get behind, right? But no, of course I'm being naive. No celebrity will put millions on the line in order to defend such silly, antiquated notions as freedom, self-ownership, and independent thought. Too bad.

Read more:
  • "Why Condemn Phelps, When We Ought to Condemn the Laws That Brand Him a Criminal" [LRC.com]
  • "Phelps Takes a Hit" [Washington Post]
  • "Michael Phelps And His Bong - We've All Gone To Pot" [CNBC.com]
  • "Michael Phelps' Marijuana Use Puts Focus on Debate Over the Drug" [LA Times]
And finally, "Really?!? With Seth Meyers of SNL":

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bibby Did a Bad, Bad Thing

Heat 95, Hawks 79.

Pee-yoo, what a stinker. The effort was certainly ugly from a team standpoint: 27 first half points, 7 total team assists, and 19 turnovers. Eww. But on a night when so much went wrong for the team, point guard Mike Bibby deserves special mention.

As stat guy for the Hawks and Thrashers, I often dig up interesting nuggets that (for obvious reasons) we could never publish on the video board. Obviously, we're trying to pump up the team and its fans, so only positive graphics get keyed. This is as it should be. But it's worth mentioning - even if we can't in a more visible forum - that Mike Bibby had the single worst game of his 11-year NBA career last night.

Going by John Hollinger's "Game Score" stat, which aggregates a player's single game box score into one tidy metric, Bibby's line of 2 points on 1-6 FG, 0-3 FT, 0 assists and 5 turnovers in 32 minutes equals a Game Score of -5.5.

(For those interested in how Game Score is calculated, the formula is PTS + 0.4 * FG - 0.7 * FGA - 0.4*(FTA - FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK - 0.4 * PF - TOV. )

How bad is a Game Score of -5.5? Put it this way: the infamous gag job by the Knicks' John Starks in Game 7 of the '94 Finals (8 points, 2-18 FG, 0-11 3FG (!), 2 reb, 2 assts) works out to -3.4. Ouch.

So yeah, Bibby had a rough outing. 767 games over 11 terrific seasons, and there's a single number that objectively states, "yup, that was pretty much your worst day at the office ever".

And...now you know.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Flavor Suggestions for Ben & Jerry's

Clever Redditors + puns + ice cream = HILARITY:

"Write this joke: Ben & Jerry's create "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama. For George W. they created__________."

"Cluster Fudge," "Iraqi Road" and "Heckuva Job Brownie" are genius. But my favorite - by far - is "Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker...Swirl." Mmm, that sounds tasty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even As A Steely Dan Fan, I Can Appreciate This

The Onion pokes fun at Donald Fagen and the notoriously esoteric Steely Dan.