Archive for January, 2012

Click this link for our live blogging of Episode 007.

We will answer your questions that you send in. We’ll keep you updated on what we’re talking about.

5 games in one week? Bulls survive and win all 5.

To survive is to prosper, and the Bulls certainly did that coming off a bad loss against an enigmatic Atlanta Hawks team. The Chicago Bulls are a difficult team to score against when they play at the United Center. They are giving up 66.8 ppg at home this year.

A modern NBA team is giving up 66.8 points per game at home in 5 games.

They kicked off the week by holding a bad Detroit team to 68 points. Then they gave up 64 to the John Wall led Wizards. The Bulls finished up by choking Toronto out and allowing 64 points. Oh, there was also a Derrick Rose injury mixed in there, allowing John Lucas III to  chuck up a bunch of shots and score 25 points. Good for him, I don’t know if he’ll ever get that shot again. Take it if you have it.

Damn I love this image.

There are of course the concerns of Boozer and Noah playing together. It seems that they’ve recently gotten in sync over the past few games, but that’s a lot of money in the front court that’s been sitting late in games. The take away I have is that the Bulls have quality depth in the frontcourt, so why not utilize it? It’s a luxury that probably won’t survive much beyond this season. They should use it.

Boston has officially been relegated to “everyone else” status in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls put them away in the 4th quarter behind a strong crunch time performance by the reigning MVP. It’s become clear that it’s the Heat vs. the Bulls with everyone else hoping to play spoiler. Boston just had no answer for the Bulls.

This was awesome.

By the way…

What to watch for when watching Bulls games.

I know it won’t always be pretty, but the second star of this Bulls team is the defense. Rose is sublime, he has the best layup package in the NBA right now. He can do things with layups I didn’t know were possible in all honesty. When you watch Rose, understand where he came from, that he was always playing against taller, bigger kids that wanted to punish him on his way to the bucket. That’s why he has that football carry move on drives to the paint. He ducks his head, protects the ball, then explodes out of that position with acrobatic flair. The man is a basketball ninja.

However, what you need to start watching is the Bulls defense. The Bulls do a tremendous job of keeping dribble penetration out of the painted area down low. They have active bigs and their on the ball defense is one of the best in basketball. Defense is a team concept, everyone needs to play it or it just breaks down. The Bulls play premium team defense. There is a shape to it, and it is constantly snapping back into form when the offense tests it. Their defense on pick and roll is the best in the league. The bigs show hard on the dribbler and allow the picked defender to recover before they snap back and cover their man.

What you need to watch is the feet positioning of the on ball defender. The feet are always in a position to deny entry to the lane, cutting the ball handler off from the painted area. The off ball defense is also impressive. The Bulls are active off the ball as they cut the passing lanes and force players down towards the baseline. The Bulls play a suffocating brand of defense. They are constantly contesting shots, hands are up and active, the ball is denied to soft spots in the defense, it’s truly a thing of beauty.

Start watching how the Bulls play defense and appreciate it. It’s the best D in the league.

On Thursday, February 16, we are celebrating the life and career of Michael Jeffrey Jordan. The bar is Cigars and Stripes. Come on out.

You’re going to be hard pressed to find bigger Michael Jordan fans than the collective known as Cad T. Wasp. We love the man. You’ll be similarly hard pressed to find a better bar than Cigars and Stripes. That place is pretty much outstanding. We felt that it was time to reward you, the fan, for listening to us, reading us, and interacting with us.

Cage and Aquarium are supplying the 90’s music. They are the absolute best DJ/Photo/Live event production company in Chicago. I’m providing the cinematic masterpiece known as Space Jam. Ronnie, owner of Cigars and Stripes, will be providing the best wings in the Chicagoland area.

Here’s the Facebook event.  Come on out, enjoy our company, have fun with us. We look forward to finally drinking with you.

I have no idea how we did it, but we’ve crossed the 1,000 view threshold. I know that it’s because of you, what I’m saying is that I had no idea we would be crossing into these waters scarcely 3 months into this experiment. You have to understand, we’re a motley crew. I’m a photographer, Raul is an audio engineer, and Andy is a school teacher. We came together on sort of a whim, a half baked idea born because I had two friends that both said I should have a podcast (many thanks to you, Melissa Gati and Ed Pickart).

Raul of course steered me towards sports, and the natural partner I thought of was Andy, and well, here we are. It’s not overtly important in the grand scheme of things. Money will not be rolling in, we haven’t achieved any fame really. It does feel great to have 125 fans (and rising) and 1,000 views. It means that we have an audience. It means that what we say, as trivial or stupid as it seems most of the time, is being read and heard. It means a lot to us.

We appreciate you, the fan. That’s as sentimental as we’ll get, we promise, but we felt that you should know, we’ve noticed. We are very lucky to have the group of friends that we do. We will continue to work hard to make this a better blog/podcast/sports experience. We have grand plans, and trust me, it’s because of you.

Thank you

-Cad T. Wasp.

A Noobs Guide to Scotch

Posted: January 13, 2012 by Raul Parra in Beer And Liquor, Columns, Nightlife, Parra's Palliatives
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By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

Get up right now and walk over to where you store your liquor bottles and check out what you have in there.  Half a sip of Jack Daniels?  Pint of Old Grandad? Diet Shasta Orange?  Now take a stroll over to your recycling bin.  Pile of Natty Ice?  Now, take a step back realize you’re almost 30 and you drink like you’re 18.  Don’t worry there’s still time to change your Frat ways.  Why not switch it up and bring some class to your debauchery?  I know what your saying, “Raul, how can I destroy my liver in a way that is fit for a king/queen?”.  Well my thirsty friends here is a rough guide to the first step in buying some of that liquid courage.

This Label… is Making Me Thirsty

The first thing you want to know about Scotch is that it is broken down into five different categories: Single Malt, Single Grain Scotch, Blended Malt Scotch, Blended Grain Scotch and Blended Scotch.  SO… what does this buffoonery mean?

  • Single Malt: A Single Malt Scotch whiskey is the product of one specific distillery and has not been mixed with whiskey from any other distilleries.
  • Single Grain Scotch: A Single grain whiskey is the product of one Grain distillery and is usually made from wheat, corn or un-malted barley.
  • Blended Malt Scotch:  A Vatted Malt will contain a number of malt whiskeys that have been skilfully blended together or “married,” to create a consistent whiskey with its own distinct, identifiable character. Such a malt can also consist entirely of malt whiskies of various ages from the same distillery. However, vatted malts will never contain any grain whiskey.
  • Blended Scotch/Blended Grain Scotch: A blended scotch whiskey may contain a combination of whiskies from over 40 or 50 different malt and grain distilleries. The normal ratio of malt to grain is 60% grain 40% malt. The percentage of malt used will determine the quality and smoothness of taste and character. Each whiskey used in the blending process will normally have been matured for about 5 years, however there are a number of higher aged blended scotch whiskies available.

You Are Where You Come From:

Now if you take a gander over at that lovely Scotch bottle that has magically appeared in your hand, you’re going to see a whole lot words on it’s label.  Some of those words and phrases you will recognize from the above information.  Congratulations, you are now just a teensy wheensy bit smarter.  However,  before your ego takes hold of you or you crack that sucker open, you’re gonna have to do some more them there learnings.

You will see phrases or words like, “Cambletown”, “Highland”, “Island”, “Islay”, “Lowland” and “Speyside” and you’re thinking…. whaaaa?  Relax, these are just the names of the regions in Scotland where your glorious booze is coming from.

OK… Now Tell Me What to Do!:

So now that you know what you’re looking when you’re try to decipher that mysterious label my suggestion to you is to buy a bottle, drink it, read the label carefully and if you like it, take care to pay attention to the characteristics of the whisky.  Develop your tastes buds.  If you have a hunch that you enjoy a Single Malt Scotch.. go for it.  Try other Single Malts and see if they share that same taste profiles.  It’s all in the details, so read those labels carefully.  I’m feeling a little thirsty myself… I’m going to go heed my own advice.

Combining my two favorite things Skyrim and Booze.

And he's better than these guys too.

Hypothesis

I don’t know many who still fly the banner for Chris Paul in this debate. I know the creator of the recently departed Free Darko does. I’m sure a few at ESPN do as well. I usually avoid Sportcenter when I can. I don’t really need useless insight to validate what I feel as a fan. Their format has become too much flash for me, I need more substance. I don’t need a useless debate show format to get it either. ESPN has become a caricature of what it used to be, but that’s for another day.

Derrick has yet to implement the array of tools that even an older Chris Paul has at his disposal. Rose’s court vision could use improvement, he could become a better on the ball defender, he could learn a thing or two about ball control from a younger Chris Paul, but that’s the thing, we aren’t looking at a younger Chris Paul anymore. We are watching a Chris Paul that disappeared late in the game against the Heat. We are looking at a Chris Paul that has a busted knee and limited lift. Yes, this version of CP3 had an outstanding game. It was a glimpse into the past, when Chris Paul could make the argument for being the league’s most valuable player and he was without a doubt the best point guard in the league.

Derrick Rose is now better than Chris Paul. I’ll even take it the extra step and say Derrick Rose is a better point guard than Chris Paul. If you want your world to be defined by rigidity, where the point guard passes and gets assists, then yes, I can see why someone would try to make the argument that Chris Paul is better at the 1.

It’s just not true anymore. This is a different NBA world we occupy. Derrick Rose is just better.

Analytics

These usually provide a dual edged sword here, but we can attempt to contextualize some numbers here.

The simple numbers tell you that Rose is a better scorer, and Paul is a better distributor. This passes the eye test as well. Rose is scoring 20.7 ppg. and 8.6 apg. Chris Paul is at 16.1 ppg. and 8.8 apg.

Paul is also getting 2 more steals per game than Rose, and is leading the league in steals. The difference in assists isn’t that great, and the gulf in points seems bigger than it actually is. Rose is the better scorer, but Paul is the more efficient player. CP3 is putting up an amazing FG percentage right now. Rose isn’t quite the efficient scorer Paul is. His FG% can be seen here.

What you’ll also see on 82games is the Off. number and Def. number. These represent how many points per possession their team allows when that player is on the floor. Paul’s Off number is 1.14, meaning per 100 possessions Paul’s Clippers will score 114 points when he’s out there. Rose’s Off number is 1.1, which translates to 110 points per possession when Rose is on the floor. This number is a lot smaller than I anticipated. Take into account that Paul is dishing to Blake Griffin in a wide open offense and Derrick’s second option is a heavy footed PF who shoots fade-a-ways. I didn’t think the Bulls would be that close to the Clippers. The Def. rating is very misleading in this case, Rose has a .95 while Paul is at 1.11. This has more to do with the team defense than anything, but something can be said for Paul losing a step and a half post surgery.

What you can also see in the numbers is a validation of what your eyes tell you. Chris Paul takes jumpers while Rose drives for layups more often. Paul attempts a jump shot 78% of the time. Rose, 64%. CP3 attempts a close shot 22% of the time. Rose, 35%.

Conclusions

Paul is the more efficient scorer, but more efficient doesn’t always equal better. In the case of Paul, he is working with an offensively superior team. His second option is much better than the Bulls second option. He is perhaps the smarter point guard, but at this stage in his career, Rose is the better player. Rose is upping the offensive value of his teammates. 1.1 points per possession is not a small number, and we wouldn’t exactly call the Bulls an offensively savvy team. So what gives with the small gap between the Clippers and Bulls from an offensive standpoint? Lob City was supposed to be Showtime on steroids.

Derrick Rose maximizes the talent on the Bulls, and perhaps that comes with playing together for so long. It’s his drives to the basket and willingness to score that separates him from Paul. CP3 is a distributor, but he is now behind Rose in the PG battle, and will stay there. He had an amazing game, but don’t forget that Paul disappeared late in that game and was clearly inferior to Rose in their previous match-up this season.

I never knew, Tim Duncan. I never knew that you enjoyed spending time pretending to be someone else. That even with millions of fans wishing they were you, you didn’t always feel like being Tim Duncan. You apparently collect swords and knives. You enjoy playing fantasy video games. You were called “Mr. Spock” in college. You play Dungeons and Dragons.

We have so much in common. We are almost exactly alike (well, save for your freakish athletic ability, your height, and given that you are a jock you’re still probably smarter than me. And you’re really, really rich).

So we, as a show, are inviting you out to Berwyn to play Dungeons and Dragons with us. If anyone out there knows Timmy, let him know. We’re here. We’d be willing. It can be amazing.

In 1992, when Nolan Ryan’s Baseball was released on the Super Nintendo, there were several other options available for a simulated baseball experience. Extra Innings, Super Bases Loaded, and Super Baseball Simulator 1000 were the top of the heap. Super Bases Loaded is, in my opinion, one of the best baseball video games ever released. So why did I buy Nolan Ryan’s Baseball? Because I was a ten year old with birthday money and I liked Nolan Ryan.

Can you imagine, or perhaps even remember, what being a ten year old baseball fan in that situation was like? I mean, the dude’s picture is on the box! None of the other games had any real players in them. Shit, this one had one of my favorite players! It’s like he’s endorsing it personally right? It can’t be bad. It just can’t.  I had yet to learn the reality of professional sports. That would come two years later when there was no world series and my favorite player at the time, Mr. Tom Glavine, ended up being the media’s scapegoat/players’ union figurehead during the strike against the collective of team ownership. At this time in my life, it was unthinkable that a high caliber player like Nolan Ryan would slap his name on a crappy game.

Kids are stupid.

Nolan Ryan’s Baseball is probably one of the worst pieces of bad game licensing in history. Maybe next to Shaq Fu or Micheal Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City this game stands tall, but at least those weren’t trying to be sports games. Maybe if it had been Nolan Ryan’s Carnival Dunk Tank where you play as the Ryan Express soaking hillbillies with flaming 104 mph fastballs it would have been worth some respect and a few chuckles, but it wasn’t. It tries to be real baseball and that’s why it fails.

You cannot throw from third base to first, without the pitcher cutting off the throw. You cannot throw from center field to the plate without the second baseman AND the pitcher cutting off the throw. The infield doesn’t move and will just allow grounders to roll into the outfield. There is no bunting. There are no pitch types, you just hold up to throw slow and down to throw fast, moving the direction pad around to curve the ball. This can be exploited to an amazing degree. There are no team names. The teams are just letters. If you pick the “T” team, you will have a pitcher with the name “Ryan,” but since all of the players just have single syllable first names, it’s more than likely just some scrub named Ryan and not the guy who’s name is on the fucking box. There is a season mode, but since there is only one league, there are no playoffs and no world series. The team with the best record at the end of the season wins. The list of stupid things about the game is arguably endless.

I hear you saying, “It can’t be that bad. There has to be something good about Nolan Ryan’s Baseball.” You are somewhat correct. If you can get past the glaring problems and exploitable game-play idiosyncrasies, it has a nice editing system that is pretty well featured for a game of its time as well as very good stat tracking. Players never retire so if you like the idea of breaking real major league records in a video game, it’s very very possible here. It was one of the first cartridge game to have actual voices for sound effects, though they are limited to the standard umpire calls. It also has the absolute coolest pixel art picture of Nolan Ryan for a splash screen. If I could get it as a poster I would frame it and display it proudly, although my girlfriend would probably disagree on that matter.

Isn't it beautiful?

Nolan Ryan’s Baseball is going to ruin my life one day. I’ve tried to play it from several points of view.  I’ve tried playing it seriously, ironically, and in the throes of wistful nostalgia. I’ve tried playing it with a friend. I’ve tried playing it drunk and dead tired. In the end, I’m done trying. It’s a terrible piece of sports gaming that would have ruined Nolan Ryan’s reputation if video games had been more mainstream in 1992 and I refuse to grade it. There is no number rating or letter I can give it to really describe how disappointing an experience it is, was, and forever will be. I’ll just leave it at that.

$20 Question:

Why would Nolan Ryan, a player who for all intents and purposes, is well respected and taken utterly seriously as one of baseball’s greatest of all time put his name on such a mediocre title?  My guess is probably for another paycheck. Back in 1992, video games weren’t as mainstream as they are now. It was sort of like American actors doing commercials for television in other countries but not in America. No one is going to see it right? Well I did, and while I’m not mad at Nolan Ryan, I’m very disappointed in him.

Srsly

We three, Andy, Moe, and Raul, ring in the new year by looking ahead at what Bears, Bulls, Hawks, Sox and Cubs fans have to look forward to in 2012. Andy has Scotch like a man and likes it.We review Red Stripe beer. Andy and Moe talk about their fantasy basketball team that no one cares about. The boys look back at their most memorable moments of 2011, and Raul has an interesting take on sports villains.

That was ugly

And to be honest rather than focus on the improbable victory over the same team just days earlier and the pasting of the Magic the night before, we’re going to concentrate on something Bulls fans need to start understandeing, especially after the Atlanta Hawks blew them out on Saturday.

You’re gonna have ugly games like this from time to time.

I think the most important thing for the average fan to grasp is the fact that a high effort/high energy team will just not have it on a given night. Every single point scored by the Bulls is a grinding effort to the basket. Every single Bulls defensive possession is a grinding effort to prevent the other team from getting to the basket. It’s a grind both ways and in a truncated season it’ll wear on the players.

This isn’t to make excuses for the play, however. It was awful. Rose had his worst game as a pro Saturday night. Joakim Noah, for all the work he’s put into his offensive game, is shooting 38% from the floor and is a 7 Pt., 7 Reb. guy right now. That’s unacceptable. Add in Boozer’s ole defense and it’s going to be a bad mix.

You can’t always rely on Derrick Rose to bail you out. It’s time for that vaunted Bulls frontcourt to step up their game and start contributing in a bigger way. Deng has been solid, but Boozer needs to be more consistent. He’s shown flashes of being the second option that can get easy buckets, but he shoots too many fade-a-ways to be that type of reliable scoring threat, I think.

I’ve said it a few times, how well Boozer plays will determine how the Bulls do against the Heat. Trust me, that’s still the only match up that really matters. Yes, the Atlanta Hawks will be annoying in the postseason. They are an athletic team that when motivated can do what they did to the Bulls. But, they might also be the dumbest team in the league. It’s the same, inconsistent team that lost to a LeWade-less heat team the night before. In triple OT. They are a merry group of knuckleheads, every once in a while they’ll come up and bite you, but for the most part they are perfectly harmless.

Don’t panic Bulls fans, this team seems to respond well to losing, actually. And the rest will be important. This next stretch of games will be a real test of how the Bulls handle the rest of the shortened season.

Remember, OKC won three games in three nights. Your turn Chicago.