Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The last blog post: This is the end, the end, my friend

As I stated in my last blog post I've decided to shutter this little blog and move on to whatever the next phase in my life is.  But before heading out I wanted to make one last post lining up some of my New Year's Resolutions and taking a minute to say a proper goodbye, instead of just a one line blurb at the end of a post unrelated to anything else.

I've been blogging off and on for 17 years now. In that time I've seen platforms progress from Live Journal (Where I started off as Sedosi Alhambra) to the rise of Blogspot to the market domination of Word Press to where we are now. Kind of a twilight/gloaning of a phase where blogs are many, but content is little.

I've blogged, politics, food, sports, gambling, entertainment and a whole host of other nonsensical things, and I've really enjoyed my time on these machines plugging away, trying to make the world a better and richer place and, occasionally, writing something worth reading.

I've allowed comments, blocked all comments, then allowed them, then blocked them and so-on. The sweet spot at the end was blocking. In today's society there's no such thing as reasonable back and forth and except for a commentor or three, very few people who actually wanted to engage.

But I was, at least, lightly read by some and this was always a good place for me to hash things out in my mind, which was really what this entire thing was about any way.

You will not miss me, I will not miss you, and we will continue to move along on this pebble finding different things daily of which to be outraged.

That said, to win this all up and put a bow on it. Here are my resolutions for 2020:

1. Do not feed the trolls.
2. Social Media less: Real life more.
3. Make better sports gambling picks.
4. Block out the noise.
5. Be nice.
6. Be healthy.

With number 5 in mind I wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous New Year and New Decade/  Maybe if we all stopped being so danged angry all of the time we would find out that most of us are not as different as we might think.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Letter from the Ed: Look upon my works ye mighty and despair.

 Social Media: It's not me, it's you.

For some time now I've been considering ending all of my social media accounts. I never check Facebook, I've only posted about 3 things on Instagram, and Twitter is becoming more and more of a fetid cesspool each and every day.

Today, I scheduled my Facebook account for full deletion, and on January 1, 2020 I plan to unfollow/block a ton of people, lock my account down, and only use it as a news aggregator rather than for social interaction.  I'll keep a few acquaintances and people whom I've met in real life around but, for the most part, I'm calling it quits.

I'm also recording the last episode of "The Public Money" podcast today. For one, it's impossible for me to find time to do it unless I'm in my car and, for two, me being in my car makes the quality not what I want it to be.

The final reason for all of this is simple:  I never got in this to monetize and make money, but suddenly I've been surrounded by a ton of people who only want to do those things.

Social media is a trap. It warps your world and sucks you into things that have no basis in reality. It makes you angrier, and more offended, than you should be, and it 100% can ruin a day. Rarely does it add enough good in one's life to offset the bad that it injects into your veins.

I'm also shuttering this blog. as a matter of fact, I'm putting an end to my blogging career after 17 years.

2020 is going to be a new year for me and I'm excited about it. It's going to be a year involved in the real world, doing charity work, working on me, and working with my loved ones.

I cannot wait.

As the old AOL script used to say: "Goodbye"

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

How Gambling Media Covers "Parlay Patz" will Reveal a lot About their Usefulness.

Parlay Patz, a 23-year old who's hit a rather improbable run on long-shot money line parlays, is getting some attention from gambling media these days:

50 Days, $1.1 Million in winnings and One Wild Ride. Darren Rovell, The Action Network

Who is Ben “Parlay” Patz? He’s a 23-year-old kid who has become the latest fascination of the gambling world, amassing more than $1.1 million in gross winnings via parlays — often seen as the sports gambling world’s version of the lottery — in less than two months.
Patz has stayed away from including spreads within his parlays almost entirely, instead opting to back big moneyline favorites.
It may not be a sound strategy over the long-term, but it seems to be working for Patz, who just landed at nearby Teterboro Airport after chartering a jet to take himself and three friends to the British Virgin Islands at a timeshare program he purchased with some of his gambling winnings. A private chef made them food.

These types of stories always seem to circulate from time to time.  Young gambler, decides to take up the craft because of one reason or another, goes on an improbable short-term run, and then is never heard from again.

In the interim though, their story is told, some lucky breaks are revealed, big wins are chronicled, and a jet-setting lifestyle is broadcast for all to see. Marketing blitzes are created, the lucky gambler's face is plastered across the Internet and, if they're lucky, a way for them to monetize their success is determined before they fall out of the public eye.

Rarely, in the past, have follow-up stories been done, there are few "where are they now?" features that run AFTER the luck runs out, after the plane trips and catered lunches and friends on beaches.

In other words, the "books" who market these people for their own benefit, don't want the public to see the downside of the game. That's bad for public relations obviously.

Enter the relatively new genre of "gaming media", whose job it is to ostensibly cover the industry with candor but who, more often than not, wind up being little more than independent PR firms for the books rather than dispassionate coverage of the same.

Because Parlay Patz luck will run out. I don't wish this on hem, and I hope he invests wisely, but a read of the article by Rovell suggests strongly that he's not doing this through strong analytics or anything of the sort. In short, he's getting lucky.  And the house edge (the Vig) is designed to wear away at luck over time. It's as persistent as water, it rarely loses.  In fact, there are probably less than 100 individuals who are good enough at this game to beat it consistently.  For most people (including me in a bit of full disclosure) gambling is a long-term losing situation. It's entertainment with a slight chance of coming out ahead.

Granted, you can study, learn strategy, build models, become good at algorithms or a host of other techniques but they do not build those big, extravagant casinos on the backs of winning gamblers.

So will Rovell, and the Action Network (and others) cover that?

The history is not promising.

The media, who are supposed to cover the network, have not, to my knowledge, started one project to track the records of so-called touts, many of whom claim remarkable (and unlikely) winning percentages of 75-80% over time. They have not, to my knowledge, covered the long-term hit percentages of many of the so-called "experts" in sports gaming. There are many examples that I could give you, but the purpose of this blog post is not to call out individual touts, it's to call out sports media for not doing their job.

On the podcast yesterday, I mentioned many of the faults with gambling Twitter as a whole, the biggest among them are inflated records, touting and general trolling. If gambling media wants to make a name for itself, it will call this out, identify it, and shine the disinfecting power of sunlight upon it.

If they continue to just report transient success stories with no questions asked?

They're not media, they are PR firms.

And you would be right to treat them as such.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

College Football: If you're rooting for CHAOS in the CFP this year, I have bad news for you.

Every year in the CFP there's a chaos theory. Granted, it's usually far-fetched, and it requires a domino-falling scene like that one in the movie V for Vendetta, but it does exist.  I typically root for it.  For one, I'm not a huge fan of the CFP, which I've mentioned before on several occasions, and two, I really want to see some new teams get in there besides Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and OU.

It's not that I dislike any of those teams (well, OK Ohio State) but I, and a lot of college football fans, are in for some new blood.  Methinks this is why Utah has such a strong following this year.

In 2019 however, I cannot see such a scenario developing.  For the reason why, let's review the CFP top 7 as revealed last night and discuss some scenarios....

1. Ohio State (12-0)
2. LSU (12-0)
3. Clemson (12-0)
4. Georgia (11-1)
5. Utah (11-1)
6. Oklahoma (11-1)
7. Baylor (11-1)

Of the top 7 teams 4 of them play each other.

Big XII Championship: 6 Oklahoma vs. 7 Baylor
SEC Championship: 2 LSU vs. 4 Georgia

So, let's discuss scenarios:

1 Ohio State, 2 LSU & 3. Clemson all lose.

IF that happens, and I don't think it will, then 1 Ohio State and 2 LSU are probably still in the playoff. They have the best Strength of schedule and their losses will be viewed by the committee as "good" because of their opponents, so I'm thinking they are still in.

Clemson is a little trickier.  If they lose on a fluke play I think they still get in. IF Virginia handles them *snicker* then they might be in trouble but I think they still sneak in as the 4 seed.

If all of that happened then I think you might see this:

1. Georgia
2. Ohio State
3. LSU
4. Clemson.

Now, maybe IF Utah skull-drags Oregon across the field in the PAC-12 Championship they MIGHT sneak into the 4 over Clemson, OR, if OU boat-races Baylor etc. I don't see any way the CFP takes Baylor over Clemson, but I guess if Clemson gets hammered and Baylor wallops OU then something like that MIGHT happen.

Scenario 2: Ohio State and LSU BOTH win, Clemson and Georgia BOTH lose badly.

Interesting, but still not chaos. Should that happen you probably get this:

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Utah (should they win, if not winner of  OU Baylor)
4. The one of the two above left over.

Scenario 3: Everyone loses EXCEPT Baylor and Utah.

While it might, in some eyes, lead to some interesting seeding, I think that Something very similar to scenario one happens, but replace Clemson with Utah.

There are other scenarios to be sure, but most of them involve Ohio State and LSU/Georgia, and Clemson IN the playoff regardless. None of that can be described as chaos, and none of it can come close to imagining, say, a 2-loss Wisconsin or Alabama sneaking in ahead of the 1-loss teams.

You CFP is coming from the top 7 this year, we just don't know the final order as of yet.

What we do know is that there are sufficient undefeated and 1-loss teams in the mix to prevent true chaos from happening this year.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

College Football: Clemson's Bad Schedule has more to do with the ACC being Terrible this year than their OOC Schedule

There's a lot of hand-wringing over Clemson's schedule this year.  Their strength of schedule numbers are, to be kind, not good.  But are they really all that much different from the other schools?

Let's take a quick look at the out-of-conference schedules for the top teams.

1. Ohio State

Florida Atlantic - Cincinnati - Miami (OH)

I've a feeling this is going to be one of the better OOC schedules you see at the top, but this is mostly because FAU and Cincinnati ended up at the top of their respective Group of 5 conferences.

2. LSU

Georgia State - Texas - Northwestern State - Utah State

To be fair, the Texas game a few years back, when this was scheduled, was probably expected to be a sterner test.  Utah State as well.  But FCS member Northwestern State follows the great tradition of SEC teams getting that cupcake week in. (more on that later)

3. Clemson

Texas A&M - Charlotte - Wofford - South Carolina

Much maligned, this OOC schedule, omitting FCS Wofford, is actually not THAT bad. You would have thought the Aggies and the Cocks would be better. It's not Clemson's fault the rest of their conference sucks.

4. Georgia

Murray Sate - Arkansas State - Notre Dame - Georgia Tech

Kudos for playing Notre Dame and, yes, they have the traditional SEC cupcake game in there in Murray State, but Arkansas State is a decent game and Georgia Tech is their in-state rival.

5. Utah

BYU - Northern Illinois - Idaho State

BYU is the Holy War, so they almost have to play that one. UNI has been pretty good up until this year so that's on OK game.  Idaho State is the one that's the head-scratcher.

6. Oklahoma

Houston - South Dakota - UCLA

Outside of South Dakota this probably looked to be a tough OOC schedule a few years ago when it was made.  I'm still not a fan of power teams scheduling the FCS (again, more on that later) but I understand why it happens.

7. Baylor

Stephen F. Austin - UT - San Antonio - Rice

This is truly pathetic, and the main reason the Bears are getting little respect this year.  Granted, these schedules were made years in advance so hopefully Baylor stops following the Art Briles' recipe for scheduling in the coming years.

8. Florida

Miami (FL) - Tennessee Martin - Towson - Florida State

In-state rivalry games always make their schedule tougher, but there's no excuse for a top 10 team to be playing TWO FCS opponents every year.

9. Alabama

Duke - NM State - Southern Miss - WCU

Duke has been better of late than they were this year, but Southern Miss and NM State have been awful. There's no excuse for Bama playing WCU in any year.

10. Auburn

Oregon - Tulane - Kent State - Samford

Kudos for playing Oregon, and Tulane and Kent State were decent, although not good, Group of Five teams this year, but Samford?

Of course, (and here's the "more on that later" bit) the SEC always points to the need to play a cupcake FCS team because of the "Grind of the SEC Season".  The problem with that logic, over the last few years, is that playing against many of the mid-to-lower tier SEC teams hasn't been that much of a grind at all.  Outside of the top 4, many of whom do not play each other every year, the SEC is relatively weak, something that's played out during the regular season and in bowl season.

You can blame Clemson for Charlotte and Wofford, but not for the rest of their OOC schedule which, at the time of booking, probably looked to be pretty difficult. Nor can you blame them for the collapse of the ACC this year.  You HAVE to play your conference games after all, you don't get to set that schedule.

Monday, December 2, 2019

College Football: The Case for Ending "Championship Week"

Before we begin:  I'm a HUGE college football fan, if you haven't figured that out already, and while I freely admit that the sport is not perfect (It's terribly flawed to be perfectly honest) watching college football on Saturday can be one of life's great joys.

"Championship Week" is not one of those joys.

Let's look at the current lines (as of the time of this writing) for the games.

Oregon vs. Utah (-6.5)
Miami(OH) vs. Central Michigan (-6.5)
Baylor vs. OU (-9)
UAB vs FAU (-7.5)
Cincinnati vs Memphis (-10)
Hawaii vs. Boise State (-14.5
Georgia vs. LSU (-7)
Virginia vs. Celmson (-28.5)
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (-16.5)

Not, the most interesting slate of games.  And in two cases, the ACC and the B1G, it could be argued that the games are not going to be competitive.  In one case, the AAC, we're getting the exact same game, in the same stadium, that we just saw last Saturday. The only reasons these games are played at all is because of TV money and the misplaced desire on behalf of all involved to try and name "one true champion".

The problem is two-fold. One, not every conference can produce two elite teams year after year. So quite often these games are unwatchable blowouts. Second, college football does not now, nor did it ever, need "One true champion" to be great.

What makes college football great is the atmosphere, the pageantry and the buzz that builds on campus during game week and on game day.  In many cases, especially for the bigger conferences, these games are played in soulless NFL stadiums under the glare of TV lights hundreds of miles away from each college, and it's barely even worth it any more.

If you have to have "one true champion" then just get rid of this week and expand the playoff to eight teams.  While I'm an advocate of eliminating the playoff altogether, and returning to the old bowl system, I realize that's not a popular sentiment in this era of "My school is better than yours" where no ambiguity can be tolerated and one's standing in the college football hierarchy is not only a measuring stick for how good the team is, but is also used to justify the societal, moral, and character superiority of one fan base versus another.

If your team wins the National Championship then you're allowed to lord that over other, less-good, fan-bases based solely on the results of a football game in which you had zero influence.  It's much the same as the city of any sports championship acting as if that makes them superior to other cities because.....why?

Sports have become our cultural touch-stone in this age of moral superiority. We NEED winners, we identify with winners and society has trouble living without winners because we're, as individuals, winning so little in life right now.  I won't delve into the political-science of this (Out of scope for this blog) but I will say that a lot of the reasons so many feel like losers is that we've now been conditioned to just give up by our ruling class.

Eliminating Championship Week in college football, and allowing their to be co-champions, would be but one small step in rolling back this trend.  We don't need "one true champion" what we need are competitive games, communal experiences and things that bring us together as fans.

In a world that is increasingly about winning, losing and, more importantly, crushing your opponents to dust without a thought, eliminating one chance for sad people to lord something as silly as a conference championship over another group of sad people, might now be all that big in the grand scheme of things, but it wouldn't be that small either.

Let's just start having fun again, without all of the anger and vitriol.

Is that too much to ask?

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