Thursday, February 20, 2014

Insanely rich owners might be pieces of garbage



Let's have a little quiz on the finances of professional sport.

Q: How much money do professional athletes make? 

A: Exactly this much, to the very dollar. It's way too much. Those guys are greedy pieces of shit.

Q: How much money do owners make?

A: Uhhhhh.........we don't know. And probably the government doesn't even know because most owners employ teams of highly paid accountants to hide revenue and exaggerate expenses. But hey because of them (swoon!) we have our favorite sports team to walk through life with and even sometimes drink beer to.

These thoughts are spurred on by an article by the kickass blogger @DrewGROF at TheScore. His thoughts were spurred on by an odd (and dickish?) move by the Philadelphia Phillies to cause an unsigned draft pick/college student to lose his final year of NCAA eligibility. I recommend reading the whole thing but in the meantime consider this:

There is so, so much money in the game right now. The owners wield so much power, securing the lion’s share of revenue in the latest collective bargaining agreement – the same CBA that saw the union siphon draft dollars away from non-members like Wetzler in exchange for increasing salaries at the big league level. Every advantage is tilted towards the owners, who aren’t required to open their books yet somehow every single contract detail for every single player is leaked and publicized on dozens of websites. 
So many fans harbor intense animosity and straight-up resentment for the amount of money players make (this is not new.) The tongue clucking and unchecked glee with which “player X made Y dollars and is now broke!” are shared around only serves to underscore the prevailing notion that nobody should make such a large sum playing ” a child’s game” yet an art collector born on third base can weasel his way into owning a team while proudly crowing about the triple he just lashed to the gap. It’s an ugly side of the sports fandom that is only getting worse. 
While the TV riches float the top end of the salary tax brackets up, they might end up having the reverse effect on salaries in some markets. As the TV revenue begins dwarfing other sources of income for teams, the incentive to spend and “buy” a competitive team lessens, does it not? Why spend extra money when the impact on your bottom line is negligible? Clubs cry poor and cite budgets when they aren’t poor and their budgets are in place to save them from themselves, mostly.

While I'm not saying that players are saints and owners are scumbags, I wonder if the ultra-wealthy are spared the critical eye of we, the sports-horny public.

I need to go now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is Twitter plagiarism happens a lot and that sucks

This isn't so much about "The Winnipeg Jets" but what's the policy on plagiarizing tweets? Is it plagiarism?

The question for me first arose when prominent local Jets fan @Jetsxoxo retweeted the following tweet:

Totally funny stuff. But it turns out someone else thought of it the day before:

Even this last tweet wasn't the original but it doesn't matter. Give credit where credit is due.Twitter is designed to share funny jokes like this. There is a fucking button for it.

People copy-and-paste other peoples' ideas from Twitter into other mediums as well. Remember Teemu Selanne and how cool he is? He rides a bicycle at the Olympics in Sochi to get around and says good-humored things to the media. Well, I saw this on Facebook the other day:



Wait. That sounds familiar...


I'm not sure what the Chicago and MLA handbooks say about sourcing from Twitter.......... but basically it's good to acknowledge where you heard the joke or thought from -- especially if you're directly copy-and-pasting it.

Otherwise you're being lame.

If you're interested in more on this read comedian Patton Oswald's fantastic and thorough piece on plagiarism among comedians as it relates to Twitter and the @ProdigalSam account in particular. Very interesting.









Monday, February 3, 2014

Refs put away whistles, possibly because Brendan Gallagher is a bitch


Well that was surprising.Apparently the refs had enough of Gallagher's antics for the game.

As the video shows, Montreal's talented young winger made contact with Montoya at every opportunity, pinballed off Bogosian into the net twice somehow, then for some reason and decided to take the scenic route through Montoya's crease on the way out of the zone. After taking some chin music from the Jets' goaltender who apparently has some really fucking crazy elbow power, Gallagher stuck around trying to draw first a holding penalty then a tripping penalty from Bogosian before running into Jacob Trouba.

In fairness to Gallagher he is a good player and certainly felt wronged by the refs over the course of the game. Still... Gallagher gets deservedly hung out to dry here - seriously, even Kerry Fraser agrees. And maaaaaaaan was it satisfying.

Oh and by the way, Trouba should have been called for interference at the end of the clip - just when Gallagher finally decides to honestly leave the zone and play hockey.

Tough break I guess eh Brandon :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Is Ondrej Pavelec Good?

I make saves?


Ondrej Pavelec is becoming a lightning rod of opinion among Winnipeg hockey fans, joining the ranks of "lazy" Dustin Byfuglien, "bad attitude" Evander Kane, and of course "Fuck you for not letting me wear my hockey helmet at the rink" fans.

However unlike Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec is actually kinda bad at hockey... or wait - is he actually kinda good?

If you think Ondrej Pavelec is good, here is where I will agree with you. Ondrej Pavelec is better than your goalie in beer league. He is better than the 12-year-old netminder you have to watch at your son's hockey practice. He's also better than me and at least the majority of goaltenders at the AHL-level and below.

However as a goalie in the NHL he needs to be compared with other goalies in the NHL - and it doesn't look good. Ondrej Pavelec currently has a .900 save percentage which is good for 42nd among NHL goalies this year. Everybody above him has played at least 17 games so all the goalies are legit. Even if you take the starters - let's go with the top-30 goalies in terms of games played - Pavelec is bad. Only the Islanders' Kevin Poulin (who?) and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (pictured below) are worse.

Martin Brodeur: old.

If you find yourself starting to disagree, perhaps thinking:

"But Pavelec faces way too many shots!"

"Pavelec faces way tougher shots than the other goalies!"

"The Jets are a lousy team defensively!"

"Pavelec is still young and improving!"

Then you should read this article by analyst Garret Hohl. It addresses those arguments and... essentially kinda refutes them. If you don't want to read the article, I'll summarize it by saying that other goalies face more shots, the shots they face are more difficult, and still save the puck at significantly higher rates. Please read the article. If you still believe that Pavelec is not bad and want to talk about "making the big save" or "he made the saves he needed to to get the win"...as if goalies know how much goal support they will receive or ever have an incentive or excuse to not try 100,000,000% to stop the puck..... then send in your application to the Rick Ralph & JP Vigier Ondrej Pavelec fan club.

Meanwhile those who wish to live in reality listen to people like Vigier, Ralph, et. al. and wonder if a goalie can do no wrong. Are goalies only ever capable of  being the hero or the victim? Are all goals against are someone else's fault? Or, at what point does going goal by goal, making excuses for the goalie totally missing the point? In any case isn't Pavelec's job to give the Jets better goaltending than their opponents?

These questions are fair to ask. Pavelec increasingly fails the eye test and is an abysmal failure in the statistical department. And - again, read the article - this is NORMAL for Pavelec. He has one season in his 5 year career where his save percentage was higher than average. Other than that: below average. By a lot.

I'm hoping the best for Pavelec. I would absolutely love to see him turn it around and become a better goalie. Goalies in the NHL are better than they ever have been before. Pavelec's save percentage of .900 would have been slightly above average in 1995/96, the final season of Jets 1.0, but standards are much higher today.

If Pavelec can become average for today's level of goaltending not only will I be thrilled, but the Jets will have a damn good chance to make the playoffs. Because they're actually a pretty good team.



1 I don't know how good the fans who wanted to wear their helmets are at hockey but I do feel it was kinda lame/authoritarian on True North's part.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Looking back at the past few years of @FakeClaudeNoel



Thus it is true, all things must come to an end.1 Claude Noel has been fired and the parody Twitter account I started for him back in the fall of 2011 will come to an end, or at least change to a new character or topic.

While part of me is a little disappointed, there is no need to put the knives and ropes away, as a wise man once said. Mainly it seems like a good time to both thank everybody who followed and appreciated the character and also to look back and tell a little bit of the story behind @FakeClaudeNoel. So without further ado:

Thank you

Yes, thank you! If you appreciated the account - and a lot of you did, I know - then you should know that feels really cool. Twitter's great for things like professional sports because, in a way, you get to watch the game with a bunch of fellow Jets fans, it's just they're in different basements or even cities or countries. I'm not trying to be sappy but that's sometimes what it is, isn't it? I've had a blast watching the games with everybody. Thanks for laughing at my jokes. Thank you for not unfollowing me for saying stupid things or not knowing which goalie Real Coach would start. It's been a lot of fun - even though I guess in retrospect the Jets lost pretty close to half the time.

I'm not trying to be melodramatic here. I don't think I am Claude Noel. I don't think my tweets mattered in any particularly real sense. I'm not dying right now and don't have a bunch of emotions to get off my chest before I'm dead. But.... it was a unique experience and it's good to write those down, I believe.

Two FakeClaudes

One important note is that there were two FakeClaudeNoels, or two of us on the account as it were. That would have been obvious to you if you ever tweeted to us and got two separate responses back, one of which about "your mom". It's a tough, thankless job tweeting for Claude in an 82-game season so I got my good buddy in on it early on. This was a great decision and we ran the account together for all but the first few of the 855 days it has existed.2 His skills with MS Paint brought about some beauties like the one below.

Couldn't have drawn it up any better than that. Early on, he had the great idea to actually respond when people tweeted at us. It was that kind of outside-the-box thinking that tricked encouraged people to pay attention to us long before we were a Proven Twitter Commoditytm.


We Like Winnipeg

One of the things we tried to do with @FakeClaudeNoel was to make the often insane Jets... "passion" seems to be the operative word - just a little bit more about all of us as fans and our unique and awesome city that is Winnipeg and less about the cliches Sara Orlesky is able to glean from a wealthy 20-something . In our opinion, it's not so much about winning and losing as it is bringing Winnipeggers together and having some laughs. One of those things you're crazy if you think you can influence at all; one of those you actually can.

Of course to talk about the twitter account having a noble philosophy seems a little rich given the number of times we said things like "SUCK MY DICK VERSTEEG!!!" but that's what we tried to do. The Jets coming back to Winnipeg is part of a little renaissance we're having around here and part of the reason a lot more of us are proud to call Winnipeg home.If this isn't you, you're probably not giving 110%... in your life. Get with it or skate some laps... on one of our two world class rivers! Etc., etc.... TMAC!!


Real Claude

I think (real) Claude Noel represented the character of Winnipeg well. He loved to joke around and seemed like a bit of an odd-ball - but he was comfortable with his slight odd-ballishness in an industry pervaded by conformity. I think this ends up describing residents of this city, even if we spend a lot of energy trying to fight it. By all accounts Claude cared about people (except maybe Alex Burmistrov) and poured his heart and soul into being the coach of the Jets. He reminded a lot of us of our dad - aloof, old-school, and always a risk of embarrassing you. Remember when he sang In A Gadda Da Vita? Remember the 3-piece suit, a.k.a. "Vest Nite"? In my opinion, Claude fit our city well. By actually having a personality, Claude Noel made our account so much better. Seriously, how amazing was this guy?




The Noel Phone

Remember this one? Back when Evander Kane tweeted his "moneyphone" shot to boxer Floyd Mayweather the city was abuzz and it seemed like as good a time as ever to capitalize on the popularity of others (always a good idea, see below) so *BAM* Noel's head on Evander Kane's body. We all had a few laughs.


Then a few weeks later it became a far bigger hit. It turns out that Andrew Ladd saw the picture, dug it, razzed Kane with it, oh and had tens of thousands of Twitter followers and is actually famous. Lots of notifications that day.... Actually Bob McKenzie apparently showed Ladd's tweet to Noel and they had a laugh about it - the only time I've ever been aware of Real Coach being aware of our account. Anyways here's Ladd's tweet:

Yep. Pretty cool. I remember waking up the next morning and seeing a bunch of "your picture is on the front page of the Sun" comments on Facebook. So I went across the street to Pal's and sure enough there it was, gracing the esteemed pages of the Winnipeg Sun. I bought a few copies and explained to the middle-aged East-Indian woman at the til that I..... I have no idea how I explained having a parody Twitter account of the Jets coach and that I photoshopped his head onto a picture tweeted by a Jets player and then my photoshopped picture was tweeted by another Jets player and now it's in the newspaper... and that that was why I was buying 4 copies of the Winnipeg Sun. She didn't care and yes it was slightly weird.

Anyways, that's about as famous as I've ever been. My only advice is to tell your children to, when they make memes, please remember to watermark them in case Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun decides to make an article out of it. But actually it never stressed me out, although I guess it would have been cool for him to say "props to @FakeClaudeNoel for the pic. You're the greatest!" Besides there were a couple pro-FakeClaude comments in the comment section so clearly sweet justice will reign forever where it counts. You know... in the comment section!


Random Did-You-Knows

1. Gary Lawless once said something like "the funny thing is this is exactly how Claude talks to me in real life". I'll see if I can find the exact tweet, but odds are that we were calling him a donkey or something to that effect.

2. We did not receive a single slice of free pizza for all our promotion of coach's favorite food. Not even from Gondola, FakeClaudeNoel's vendor of choice.

3. Also on pizza - we had been tweeting about pizza and pizza parties for the players since the early days, way before Oduya (or Enstrom?) made the giveaway that had Real Claude referring to "free pizzas". In my innocent, parody account ways I got prettty psyched hearing him drop that one. WAS HE FOLLOWING US MAYBE???

4. Jason Jaffray followed us for a while. And @CountBettman once DM'd us. That's what the Twitter high-life looks like!

5. @FakeClaudeNoel was created at the Yellow Dog Tavern.... I think inspired by the parody account for Rahm Emanuel and the disturbingly non-parody account of Karl Welzein, a.k.a. @Dadboner.4


Finally

In closing, I'd like to leave you with some tips on having a successful Twitter account and a bunch of our favorite tweets. Most of the fun of the account was the in-the-moment stuff but hey - the memes will live on forever!

Thanks again for any times where you may have laughed at our jokes. If you're wondering, we do plan on doing something on Twitter as the Jets are still fucking awesome and it's too damn boring sitting on the toilet  otherwise. Probably not a Paul Maurice account as he has a bunch already... but you never know.5



How to have a successful Twitter account

1. Leach off the popularity of others
2. Make frequent Simpsons references
3. Learn how to use MS Paint or Photoshop (it's all about the memes)
4. Tweet while drunk as much as possible.


Some good tweets

The first one is allegedly kinda true. Enjoy!

















I hope we did you proud, @CoachBeaks





1 Claude has now been fired for two weeks. I meant to publish this earlier and, yes, it is now even more less relevant than originally envisioned.
2 Actually there were three on the account. Bucky from Royal Canoe was known internally as "The Third Noel", who would tweet occasionally, seemingly out of nowhere, and mainly glowing tweets about Alex Burmistrov.
3 In my opinion Winnipeg is both of those things even without the Jets.
4 This account is clearly a fictional character, although I think if you dig around there is some controversy about Karl and the account in the early days.
5 We would like to see at least one of the accounts step up their game though. I guess until then all bets are off!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keep calm and carry on (destroying each other for our entertainment)



Senators defenceman Eric Gryba returns to the lineup tonight. He had been suspended after nailing Lars Eller with an open-ice hit.





In the aftermath, there was a lot of opinion out there right now. Was it a clean hit? Did Gryba make contact made with Eller's head? Should Gryba be suspended? Should the blame in fact lie with Eller, or with Raphael Diaz, the Canadiens defenceman who made the pass that put Eller in a vulnerable position? And of course: We All Hope Lars Eller's Okay.(TM)


Here's some analysis from the TSN panel.

Part of me wonders if we're losing sight of the big picture. Yes, it's a good development to pay more attention to hits to the head... but Gryba only kinda made contact with Eller's head. In any case, scientifically dissecting the hit, frame-by-frame on instant replay, isn't the point. The point is that these types of hits are effective ways to win a hockey game, or keep your job in the NHL - safety be damned.

It's easy to forget, so let's consider some of the ways the game has changed over the past few decades.

Players are far bigger now. As of 2010, the average NHLer is 6'1, 204 pounds. In 1970, the average NHLer was 5'10, 180 pounds - quite small by today's standards. Plus when you consider that all NHLers now have planned diets and insane fitness regimens (except Byfuglien) based on explosiveness and speed, players must be far more powerful and thus impacts more severe.

Yep. Things have changed. Players in the 70's and 80's used to go out drinking the night before a game. For example, Dale Hawerchuk I'm told would be out at the bar getting drunk and working his way through a pack of cigarettes the night before a game (and score 2 goals, 1 assist to boot). Now NHL players don't mess around - they play NHL 2K12 and pop ephedrine.

The last one that I can think of is care of Ken Dryden. He notes that shift length used to be much longer - often close to a couple minutes. Today's game is played at such high speed that shifts need to be 35-45 second sprints in most cases (particularly for forwards). The only place you'll find 2-minute shifts now is in the beer leagues (or, again: Byfuglien... and sometimes Kane).

And there doesn't seem to be much of a culture of "letting up" or "not wanting to kill my opponent"; I'm not saying that players in the past were more gentle... as I think there is no shortage of stories of shocking acts of violence in the past. It's just... hasn't the overall situation changed a bit? Players are far bigger, far stronger, and they're playing a far faster game. I'm pretty sure we're we want to stop concussions but, hey, the money.

The tragedy for me is that it's not making the game more beautiful. Case in point: the Kings / Blues series, which is the ugliest series I've seen.

Hockey is a balance between skill and toughness. But increasingly these playoffs, it's just ugly, and too often dangerous. What's the point of that?






Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Hey, look out for that 5 game losing streak. 'Cause 5 is a lot of games this year..."




Fuck Washington, fuck Carolina, fuck Ottawa, fuck the refs, fuck the "war room" in Toronto, and hell, while we're at it, fuck the Leafs. Why you ask? I offer "why not" in response.

On elimination night the only real winner was the bar I was at, due to the fact that I had to drown my sorrows in something, and since most of the water in Manitoba is still frozen, beer and whiskey were seemingly my best options. My soul bolstered by spirits and fermented grains, I was still rather heartbroken by the lacklustre fashion in which the Jets' season found its end. Not with a bang, but like the raspy voice of a recent high school graduate on a 2 week festival party circuit binge1 and having smoked 2 cartons of cigarettes, a weak, nearly asthmatic whimper. Glued to the giant screen (I don't know where you come from, but 60 inches is rather enormous. Weird Al might disagree), the room of well rung-out revellers jumped from their seats like a bomb had gone off when Blake "I-Rode-a-Badass-Tricked-Out-Big-Wheel-When-I-was-a-Kid. Yeah-Rode-it-like-a-Boss" Wheeler managed to jam home the go ahead goal with 5 minutes left in the second. We were overjoyed, it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to anyone while hanging out at ANAF 60. Then in between periods, while waiting for our tastalicious/ really greasy (they made the chips themselves. So I guess that's a decent excuse) nachos to arrive, through the magic of technology we were informed that Carolina sucks and had failed in their task to keep the Rangers2 from taking the 2 points they needed to lock up a playoff spot. This was followed shortly after by watching Ottawa score a power-play goal 1 minute into overtime, thus eliminating the Jets from playoff contention. The air went out of the room like it had been consumed by a roaring pyre of disappointment. But rather than burning through the room like a stream of dragon's breath (I've been reading a lot of A Song of Ice and Fire lately...), it instead sucked it out subtly, as if at one moment we had all the hope (oxygen) in the world (albeit somewhat misplaced), only to open our hearts and lungs the next second to find nothing but a lifeless vacuum. A year that started with disbelief when we, the fans, were met with instead of an arena filled with roaring fans and a bunch of burly guys chasing around a little rubber thingy on a bunch of frozen H2OOOHHHH YEAH, we watched coverage on who was being a bigger asshole on that particular day (Hint, it was always Gary Bettman). Then when hockey finally made it's glorious return, the Jets couldn't buy a victory on home-ice. Finally things started falling into place for our boys in blue (and sometimes white), and we maintained a hold on third place in the conference for a substantial amount of time. Then the wheels fell off. What began as a blowout loss to Washington at home was followed by (the very next day) another blowout loss to Washington. And quickly on those dirty unWashed heels followed 3 more losses. Straight up losses, no loser points, no losing after 307 rounds of a gruelling shootout, but miserable, humbling losses that set the Jets back so far in the standing that not even an unlikely 6-2-1 finish to the season could make up for those 10 lost points. To place a wee bit o' perspective on that, that's basically a 10 game slide in a regular 82 game season. And teams with 10 game losing streaks are generally really shitty teams, like the Florida Panthers, or the Calgary Flames. The playoff-bound boat sunk, and while we might have seen the iceberg off in the distance, we just couldn't believe that it could do THAT much damage, or that we couldn't right the ship after hitting it. Probably because hockey players are not notorious for being math whizzes.

Now, I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, and I admit that my somewhat biased opinion is not as informed as it could be, but the "facts" as I'm about to recount for you aren't well documented either. That's probably definitely Gary Bettman's fault too.

The Jets were railroaded. That's old west slang for "got-fucked-over." I don't watch any hockey games that aren't Jets-centric, or if I do, I'm definitely not paying attention3   so I can't recall whether the officiating is just terrible wall to wall, or if it's considerably worse where the Jets are concerned, but I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Goals called off, horrible penalties called against, worse penalty calls missed (just ask Nic Antropov's face last night, it would certainly have something to tell you), goals scored on plays that had blatant penalties that went "unnoticed" and some great phantom goaltender interference calls that resulted in goals being disallowed. Sure, shouting "REF YOU SUCK" from the rafters of the MTS Centre isn't the classiest thing one could do, but it's certainly more tasteful than tossing banana peels onto the ice...The important component of that action is that it shows that even a bunch of drunk, knuckle-dragging hockey fans can tell when there is
sculduggery afoot.

This year was a great one, and even though the Jets got eliminated from the playoffs on the last day of their season (which came before everyone else's for some inexplicable reason), I'd still say that it was a success in many respects. Sure, the wound is a little fresh right now, but lingering over failed potential is a sure way to drop into a depressed cycle of "what ifs..." and we should be focusing on the positives. Like being able to join Leafs fans in a week or so in a chorus of "There's always next year."

  1 Country Fest to Folk Fest. There are more trucks at Country fest. And more shitheads, but I'd say in 3 years it'll be getting pretty close. But probably still fewer trucks. 
2 What kind of redneck team wants to be called the Rangers anyway? Naming your team after some roving group of horse mounted warmongers? Military affiliations for professional sports are not cool, they're douchey...shit.<---Hey remember when that was a big deal? Maybe it still should be...
3For the obvious reason that the 29 other teams in the league suck. Especially the sucky sucky Leafs. Suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.