Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Creating a Digital Monster

Alright, this blog is pretty shot today, plus it got a new digital camera. Given this confluence of events, this blog figured that it could show you some of the insanity that it was talking about waaaay back at its humble beginnings.

Here's an example of this blog's vaunted t-shirt and hat rotation. This particular combo (pictured) will be worn tomorrow. This blog knows it's tomorrow's outfit, because tomorrow this blog is attending the Wisconsin-Louisiana Tech game in Madison, WI. This combo was selected because it was the next Wisconsin outfit in the lineup. This is a rare exception built in to the rotation: Live Sporting Events. If this blog is going to attend a live sporting event, the next relevant item of clothing will be worn.

If this blog were not going to the game tomorrow, it would just pick the next shirt/hat combo in the rotation. The rotation now consists of the 174 short- (or no-) sleeved t-shirts this blog owns, each matched up with one of the 191 hats this blog owns. Also in the rotation are a number of long-sleeved shirts that do not have a specific hat. That's right, when a long-sleeved shirt comes up in the rotation, this blog has carte blanche to choose any hat. Because of this leeway, all hats are worn approximately equally despite the margin between hats and short-sleeved shirts.

That's probably as good of an introduction as this blog can provide without either: a) Boring you with minutia, or b) Scaring everyone away. Realistically this blog probably scared everyone away already, but it likes to think there's a deranged reader or two remaining. So thanks to the 2 readers, and Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bear With It: Baylor Men's Basketball and RPI

A very unique situation in the NCAA this season is that of Baylor University's men's basketball team. As punishment for a previous regime's transgressions, Baylor is not allowed to play any non-conference games this season. This is unprecedented as a specific punishment (TCU football had their entire football schedule revoked, but a non-conference-only penalty had yet to be meted).

The result is that Baylor is the only NCAA team that has not played a game yet, and they won't until January 11th, when their Big XII season opens at Texas Tech.

This blog is unsure if the NCAA thought through the ramifications of this unique punishment, particularly in some specific areas. The first of these issues is fairly obvious. Because all NCAA teams have been allowed to practice since October 14th, Baylor will end up having just under 3 months to practice, and only practice.

This could end up being a huge advantage to Baylor. A team that did not fare too well last year (9-19), but they did have freshman All-America Aaron Bruce at point guard. Bruce, combined with a solid recruiting class, give Baylor reason for hope. Given three months to prepare for a total of 16 games and only 11 opponents could prove to be helpful. Potentially even more advantageous to the Bears is the fact that they will not need to "tip their hand" to opponents by playing in any games or being "caught on tape."

An obvious disadvantage, and most likely the reasoning behind the punishment, is that the Bears can't play any opponents in the meantime. The NCAA will not even allow Baylor to play exhibition games, so their second intrasquad scrimmage on 12/19 was the closest to game action that they've come.

Another interesting part of the Baylor situation is that their RPI will have some bizarre side effects. This blog corresponded with an RPI expert and got some interesting information about Baylor. First off, as one might expect, they'll have a darn good strength of schedule. Since they're only playing Big XII opponents, they don't have the typical non-conference fare to lower their RPI. Granted, anyone could schedule only top opponents for their non-conference schedule, but because this never happens, non-conference schedules typically lower major conference teams' schedule strengths (with the exception of Temple, who plays any team, anywhere).

With this strong of a schedule, the Bears' RPI will be inflated. The RPI expert noted that even if Baylor were to lose all 16 of its games this year, its RPI would be about 150th in the nation. If it were to win 8, Baylor's RPI would check in around the 25th spot. A top-25 RPI would be tough for the selection committee to ignore come tournament time. Even if they won around 10 though, the committee could reasonably say they don't have enough wins to earn an at-large bid.

Other strange RPI activity the RPI guru noted is that the Big XII's Conference RPI will be dragged down until Baylor plays their first game. Right now, the Big XII is ranked 14th in Conference RPI, which is extremely low for a BCS conference. A few weeks back, when they were 9th, the effect of Baylor playing 2 games would have vaulted them into 4th. Most likely a similar jump will occur when Baylor gets their first games under their belt (to say, 6th?). Besides this, any time a Big XII team plays against Baylor, per the expert, the opponent will see their RPI inordinately rise. Because all of Baylor's opponents will be Big XII teams, typically in the top 150 for RPI rankings; and most of BU's opponent's opponents will also be Big XII teams, giant leaps may be taken when a team plays Baylor.

This is interesting, because Conference RPI is usually static after the non-conference season has ended. For most conferences this will be the case this year. But the Big XII, while starting off with a big disadvantage, will be able to make significant jumps throughout the conference season. Very fascinating for stat geeks like this blog.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Former Cheerleader of the Week: Renee Thomas

Ms. Thomas is a former Carolina Panther cheerleader. Perhaps you have heard of her, this blog is not sure why though. These photos provided due to the dearth of available photos out there. She is the one on the far left in the military photo, the one on the far right in the other picture. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It's (Ur)bina Long Year

This blog was having trouble completing an item before deadline, so it took a request from the peanut gallery and will write about some old news, but some interesting news: Ugueth Urbina.

Urbina first made news in 1995, becoming the first major leaguer with the initials "UUU." (His middle name is Urtain). He became an All-Star with the Montreal Expos in 1998 and again with the Boston Red Sox in 2002. Last season, Urbina's mother was kidnapped by Venezuelan druglords and held for ransom. She was later rescued without ransom being paid.

This offseason, Urbina had some more excitement, as he is accused of having assaulted some of his employees. Reports of what exactly happened are varied. Either Urbina arrived at home to find his farmhands swimming in his pool without permission, or he noticed that his handgun was missing. In any case, allegedly, this called for an immediate response. So naturally, the reaction (allegedly) was to call a large group of men over to the house to round up the workers, then douse them in gasoline and paint thinner, and set them afire. All this while holding them at bay with machetes and allegedly cutting them with the machete blades.

This blog would guess that a normal reaction to catching people in one's pool is to grab one's handgun, but Urbina found his stolen, so he instead chose the next-best alternative: machetes and gasoline. Some unsubstantiated rumors say that Urbina has been known to use this type of excessive force in the past, however he has been able to pay off corrupt Venezuelan officials to keep it under wraps. This blog has no idea on the validity of that claim, given the extreme lack of corruption in Venezuela.

What this blog does know is that Ugueth Urbina, while not exactly the smartest Venezuelan in the country, is certainly among those one does not want to mess with. Because that dude could just unleash a 95-mph fastball at you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stanford Gets Pun-k'd

Some more upsets from the weekend. First off (on Monday), Oklahoma State went down, at home, to Northwestern State. NSU was led by Ben Wallace look-alike Clifton Lee.

Secondly, Stanford continues to be horrible. On Friday night, they lost at Montana. Montana's a good team, made the tournament last year (as the Big Sky Conference's representative), but traditionally they are not in Stanford's class. So this blog might be able to give the Cardinal a pass on that. But then they went to UC-Davis on Saturday and lost there. (An especially bad loss compounded by their duplication of the feat in football, in the same season).

So, this blog has established that Stanford is bad. Pun City's guess is that they'll rise from the ashes and gain an at-large bid at the end of the year.

This does bring up a good excuse to talk about UC-Davis and some related issues though. The Aggies are an independent team in basketball, with no conference affiliation. This is the equivalent of college basketball purgatory (probably worse, but this site is not one for hyperbole). Opponents have no problem playing you, as long as you come in to their place. Beyond this, without a built-in conference schedule, it's a great challenge to schedule 28 opponents, primarily during the part of the season where most teams are in their conference schedules.

The result is a road-heavy schedule with most games taking place early in the season, and the end of the year filled in with games against other independent teams, very often with a home-and-home in the same season.

This year UC-Davis doesn't have the home-and-home situation, because things are looking up for them. They are joining a conference soon. In today's NCAA, when you are an independent basketball team, the point of your existence is to join a conference. Gone are the days when it was cool to be independent, as powers like Marquette and Notre Dame once were. (As you probably know, Notre Dame remains independent in football, where recruiting, television exposure, and postseason trips are easier to come by without a conference, at least for them).

So, for the 2007-2008 season, UC-Davis will enter the Big West Conference. During the years leading up to their official integration, they get to play a Big West schedule during the regular season. Wins like this vindicate the conference for adding a school like UC-Davis. The Aggies were somewhat lucky that the NCAA's Division I basketball teams decided to shake up their lineup this season, creating some openings for independents. This situation, combined with the fact that there aren't too many teams in the Pacific time zone to choose from, buoyed UC-Davis's bid for conference affiliation.

In the meantime, independent teams that are drifting along hoping to get picked up include: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Utah Valley State, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, Texas-Pan American, South Dakota State, Longwood, Savannah State, and Northern Colorado.

This blog would recommend checking out Utah Valley State's badass Wolverine logo. UVSC adheres strongly to its badass values, referring to sexual abuse as "broken hearts." Also of note is Pan American's cheesy flash intro to its athletics site.

After further research, it appears as though there are other lucky independents joining UC-Davis in being picked up by conferences: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will join the Southland Conference next season, and Northern Colorado will join the Big Sky Conference next season.

A few corporate puns to pun-ctuate the post.

Your company's phone system may be in need of Avaya-ble option.

Swingline is often a staple of the office manager's budgetary diet.

For the anti-social businessman, networking was a Novell concept.