Earlier today Mark Rosewater tweeted this out:

There was immediate blowback:

That’s a lot to unpack, so let me break it down. Tom, Paulo, and Christian are taking issue with a representative from WotC taking a side, and bringing morality (the right thing) into it. They have a point. Mark has spoken about his thoughts on the Hall of Fame for years, which I’ll get to shortly.

Patrick Sullivan goes a bit deeper, and bringing up an issue back from when the Hall of Fame was new:

http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/it’s-long-story-2005-06-27

That’s probably the screed Sullivan is talking about. I say “probably” because Rosewater had written something earlier about his support for Long, but that wasn’t nearly 3,500 words. Let me note what the qualifications were for the MTG Hall of Fame:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game in general.”

That gives us five criteria to weigh. Mark admitted Mike lacked integrity and sportsmanship, but considered those among the least important categories. In other words, they were neither necessary, nor sufficient. Player performance was paramount, as was playing ability. Except, that’s not the true crux of his argument either. What it really came down to was this:

“But where Mike blows this category out of the water for me is in what I called charisma last week and today will call “star power”. You see, I spent almost ten years working on the Pro Tour. My primary job was star building. I’m the guy who came up with the idea for feature matches. I’m the one who chose who was featured. It was also my call who was put on camera during the final rounds on Sunday. And I had input into how the Pro Tours were covered in print and online.

In short, my job was to make the Pro Tour interesting and exciting. I had to make all of you care about it. And in the history of the Pro Tour three players blew everyone else out of the water. Interest in them dwarfs all the other players combined. Those players were Jon Finkel, Kai Budde and Mike Long. (Notice I voted for Jon as well and I vow right now to vote for Kai in two years.)”

As much as I want to ignore “Notice I voted for Jon”… I can’t. You don’t get any fucking credit for voting for Jon, any more than you get credit for voting for Kai. Not voting for Jon would have been an absurdity, and impossible for Mark to defend.

Was Mike Long famous? This was covered in The Three Amigo’s.

Mike Long was El Guapo. He was an infamous cheater and Mark loved him because Mike brought eyeballs. He was also absolutely terrible for the game of Magic. Let’s go back the 1998 US National Championship. Mike Long was found to have a Cadaverous Bloom in his lap. After much discussion Long was given a match loss (it may have been a game loss that ended the match, but I think it was an actual match loss penalty). There were a large contingent of players that wanted Long to be DQ’ed, Pikula chief among them. Rosewater did not feel Long should have been DQ’ed, and in the end head judge Donais agreed with Rosewater. Pikula went ballistic, with chants of “When will it be enough?!” Long ended up losing in the finals to Matt Linde, and was part of the eventual world champion Team USA.

Amazingly, Rosewater had the balls to write:

“I Do Not Condone Cheating” and “I think it is a blight on the game” in the same article as:

“When I was asked to pick the top ten best Pro Tour finals, Mike Long vs. Mark Justice in Paris topped my list. Mike had the ability to make any match he played in compelling. I was the “star building” guy for so long that it’s impossible for me not to recognize the value this added to the Pro Tour.”

That’s the crux of it. Mark valued what Long brought to the game (eyeballs). Pikula valued the integrity of the game. Those were the two incompatible worldviews some two decades ago. Mark fought for drama (think of wrestling with heels and heros). Pikula fought to clean the game up.

Let’s look at the Hall of Fame:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic:_The_Gathering_Hall_of_Fame

Yes, numerous cheaters got in during the early years, but it has gotten much better since then. Saito saw his invite revoked when he was suspended. The fact is, Mark might have won the battle, but Pikula won the war. The integrity of the game was more important then… charisma. I’ll come back to this in a second. Players revolted against lax enforcement of the rules. That led the pendulum to swing too far, where honest errors led to severe punishments, which led to angle shooting and rules lawyers. Eventually, they found the right balance, although a case can be made that the penalties once caught red-handed are still far too lenient. That’s an issue for another time. Now, let’s talk about charisma:

http://icametogame.com/2011/mark-rosewater-on-mike-long/

Some highlights:

“I felt like my job was to build up celebrities.”

“One of the things that saddens me, the fact that Mike isn’t in the Hall of Fame is the fact that we actively played him up as a bad guy because that made sense for the Pro Tour.”

Note: This isn’t true for the players who were there. Mike was a savage cheater, and an incredible asshole to boot. He was a pox upon the game and we collectively wanted him gone. Mark didn’t make Mike the bad guy. Mike made Mike the bad guy. Mark just tried to capitalize on that.

As for “The speech” that Mark refers to… “If this happens again, that would be bad.”

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??? elnkgrgnlewrnkgnk45wnk4hlnk54wnkehnlk4w5rnlkhkldnklbwetlknhblknerlkngnkleqra

 

 

Sorry. It’s just that in the case of Mike Long this meant “If this happens again, we’ll get more viewers, so please keep cheating/winning.”

Seriously:

“How did Mike fare at star building? He’s the best I ever had. If I put him in a feature match or on camera, people showed up. In large numbers. The best example I can give of this was the PT Los Angeles won by Trevor Blackwell. Mike got into the Top Eight after a controversy with Darwin Kastle in the last round of the Swiss. Now normally the quarterfinals are low turnout as the event starts at 9:00 am. But in Los Angeles, the room was packed. It was at the time the best attendance we’d ever had for a quarterfinal match. Mike wins and advances to the semi finals. Even more people turn up out of the woodwork to watch. In the semi finals, Mike loses. The finals was the lowest turnout we’d ever had. Everyone came to see Mike lose. Once he did, they left.”

To Mark, Mike Long was the hand that fed. To Chris Pikula, Mike Long was a scourge to be eradicated. Amazing side note: The year Rosewater wrote this article, Pikula fell one vote short of making it into the Hall of Fame. There’s no way anyone could have known that at the time, but Rosewater held the power to elect Pikula in his hands. He chose to use it instead to promote Mike Long. That makes today’s tweets truly surreal to me.

I don’t have the time to write about how much Pikula did to clean up the game. He started local, cleaning up his own gaming group, and then worked to change the culture in and around NY and the East Coast. He worked tirelessly to move the Overton Window on what was and was not acceptable behavior. In retrospect history seems immutable, but it’s possible that without him the game would have developed completely differently. At the Pro Tour Rosewater could promote a feature match between white hat Reid Duke and black hat Stephen Speck. Then again, Gresham’s Law might not have been so kind. It’s possible players like Duke would not want to play a game where cheating was tolerated, if not encouraged. We’ll never know.

What we do know is that Pikula’s vision won out. For that, I am profoundly grateful. I wish he had made the Hall of Fame year’s ago, and I hope he’s enshrined one day in the future.

My NFL preview won’t come out until late August, but I took some time to calculate the current numbers for the rosters as they stand. Of note to me:

  1. The Patriots are monster favorites to win the AFC. Only the Steelers can be considered a credible rival, and the coaching disparity makes it highly unlikely that Pittsburgh knocks off New England.
  2. The Jets roster really is the worst in the NFL. Well done gents!
  3. Baltimore’s roster has begun to decay. I wonder how soon they’ll be in rebuilding mode.
  4. The Texans still desperately need a quarterback if they don’t want to waste their window via their defense. Just going by the rosters it looks like it’s time for Tennessee to surpass them.
  5. Dallas has the weirdest roster in the NFL. I’ll go into this in more depth in a few months, but they had better stay healthy.
  6. The Giants have a scary offense… if Eli has time. Cincinnati has a similar situation.
  7. Pray for the Redskins defense. Ditto for the Lions.
  8. The Bears are very bad, but just looking at their roster, they aren’t in the Jets/Browns/49ers tier.
  9. The Packers are going to put a lot of pressure on Rodgers to carry them. Their GM has done an awful job extending his window.
  10. Imagine if the Falcons had run on second and third down, and kicked a field goal. We could be looking at a potential repeat champion with a loaded roster. Instead we see a team that has gone through an overhaul on the coaching staff, and a team that will be dealing with a SB hangover. Best of luck Falcons.
  11. All of the confidence on the Saints roster rests on them having an elite offense, just below Atlanta’s.
  12. Seattle would have led the Talent Wins standings had they signed Kaepernick. Just kidding 😉
Team Talent Wins “Vegas” Wins
Buffalo Bills 6.83 6.38
Miami Dolphins 6.53 7.28
New England Patriots 10.96 12.31
New York Jets 3.19 4.06
Baltimore Ravens 7.62 8.55
Cincinnati Bengals 7.88 8.33
Cleveland Browns 4.74 4.24
Pittsburgh Steelers 11.19 10.57
Houston Texans 7.37 8.62
Indianapolis Colts 8.27 8.28
Jacksonville Jaguars 6.58 6.53
Tennessee Titans 9.74 8.67
Denver Broncos 8.43 8.23
Kansas City Chiefs 8.24 9.17
Oakland Raiders 9.76 9.52
Los Angeles Chargers 9.32 7.19
Dallas Cowboys 8.82 9.57
New York Giants 9.55 8.74
Philadelphia Eagles 7.54 8.03
Washington Redskins 6.24 7.38
Chicago Bears 6.16 4.99
Detroit Lions 6.97 7.40
Green Bay Packers 8.89 10.18
Minnesota Vikings 8.26 8.38
Atlanta Falcons 11.23 9.52
Carolina Panthers 8.58 9.22
New Orleans Saints 9.96 7.78
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7.23 8.28
Arizona Cardinals 8.51 8.08
San Francisco 49ers 4.14 4.64
Seattle Seahawks 11.27 10.47
Los Angeles Rams 6.01 5.43

 

Nate Silver & 538 are confident that the Warriors will beat the Cavaliers. Their official prediction has the Warriors at 90% to win the series. As such, they are risking 64% of their bankroll on the Warriors.

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 20155 143300 -20155
Bulls 8800 33000 -8800
Wizards 34900 16619 16619
Trailblazers 2867 86000 -2867
Thunder 8462 27500 -8462
Jazz 13845 28520 28520
Raptors R2 41958 160280 -41958
Rockets R2 9247 20990 -9247
Jazz R2 3313 53000 -3313
Spurs R3 2765 23500 -2765
Celtics R3 43351 240600 -43351
Warriors R4 64000 24615 0
-95777

No, a win won’t get them back to parity, but it would trim the damage of constantly shorting the Cavs. Still, as confident as 538 is, that’s nothing compared to ESPN’s BPI:

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 8720 62000 -8720
Raptors 15340 3854 3854
Bulls 11333 42500 -11333
X Warriors 4-0 4450 4045 -4450
Rockets 5000 1333 1333
Jazz 12359 25460 25460
Raptors R2 33126 126540 -33126
Celtics R2 5480 3079 3079
Jazz R2 1188 19000 -1188
Spurs R3 9471 80500 -9471
Celtics R3 35090 194750 -35090
Warriors R4 75200 28923 0
Current Tab -69651

 

They are risking 75.2% of their bankroll on the Warriors. They have the Warriors at 93.2% to win the series. That’s roughly 13.7-1. At the time when I recorded their wagers, they only had to lay 2.6-1. The current vig-free price is a hair under 2.6-1, so we can get a reasonably estimation of how far off market ESPN is.

Let’s run a thought experiment. I want you to imagine a world where you could bet into ESPN’s BPI. Yes, I know Ben “10,000” Alamar is risk averse, but that’s not relevant to the experiment. Let’s give ESPN a vig of 4%. In that case, you’d have to lay 19.8-1 on Golden State, and you’d get 10.4-1 on Cleveland. In that case, Pinnacle would make this bet:

Team Risked To Win Result
Cleveland 69243 717614 0

Yes, that “To Win” column is accurate. That is the kind of thing we’d be seeing if Pinnacle and ESPN’s BPI were to play “The Green Knight” test against each other. In the long run, it would not be pretty for ESPN’s BPI.

Of course, there are those who believe in Cleveland:

 

Have fun and enjoy the games. This is a bit what it was like when the Lakers and Celtics battled (although the East was always reasonably tough).

 

538 has the Celtics at 63% to win game 1:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2017-nba-predictions/?ex_cid=rrpromo

The markets have them around 37%, so there is quite a disagreement. 538 also has the Celtics at 52% to win the series. The market is… skeptical.

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 20155 143300 -20155
Bulls 8800 33000 -8800
Wizards 34900 16619 16619
Trailblazers 2867 86000 -2867
Thunder 8462 27500 -8462
Jazz 13845 28520 28520
Raptors R2 41958 160280 -41958
Rockets R2 9247 20990 -9247
Jazz R2 3313 53000 -3313
Spurs R3 2765 23500 0
Celtics R3 43351 240600 0
Current Tab -49661

It’s as Nate Silver always says: Get rich or die trying.

As for ESPN and Ben Alamar, they are also quite confident in the Celtics:

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 8720 62000 -8720
Raptors 15340 3854 3854
Bulls 11333 42500 -11333
X Warriors 4-0 4450 4045 -4450
Rockets 5000 1333 1333
Jazz 12359 25460 25460
Raptors R2 33126 126540 -33126
Celtics R2 5480 3079 3079
Jazz R2 1188 19000 -1188
Spurs R3 9471 80500 0
Celtics R3 35090 194750 0
Current Tab -25090

It should be a fun ride to the finals.

 

Spotrac has free agent quarterback contract data publicly available back through the 2011 free agency period, so I’ve focused my research on the 2011-2017 period. During that time quarterbacks switched teams in free agency 85 times. Of those 85, three signed deals worth over $10M a year:

Name Salary Guaranteed $ DYAR DVOA Year
P.Manning 19200000 1400 19.00% 2012
B.Osweiler 18000000 37000000 153 -3.20% 2016
M.Glennon 15000000 18500000 65 65.90% 2017

Let’s start with Manning. His data is actually not from 2011, but from 2010. He missed 2011 with a neck injury, which set off a chain of events. The Colts tanked for Andrew Luck, which made Manning expendable. He was allowed to become a free agent and ended up signing in Denver. He proved to still have some gas left in the tank and led the Broncos to a Super Bowl, which they lost to Seattle. Then, he ran out of gas, and was benched for Brock Osweiler (Peyton was also injured). Brock was decent in limited playing time, but once Manning was healthy, Brock went back to the bench. The defense carried them to a Super Bowl victory. Brock was displeased at his treatment, and the Texans were hopeful he was the missing piece.

Extremely Ron Howard voice:

“But he wasn’t the missing piece.”

Still, he snookered the Texans for a large sum of money, so, good for him. That brings us to Mike Glennon. Glennon threw 11 passes last season. He didn’t throw any in 2015, so his contract is rather questionable. Like Osweiler’s, it’s a gamble that a tall white quarterback that couldn’t win the starting job will be your savior. Of course, the Bears then proceeded to trade up to draft Mitch Trubisky, so the who the heck knows what their long term plan is. In any event, the list of quarterbacks who struck it rich by changing teams in free agency is mercifully short.

Next up is the list of quarterbacks who got at least $5M in guaranteed money:

C.Daniel 7000000 12000000 -28 -24.40% 2016
B.Hoyer 6000000 9850000 403 19.50% 2017
N.Foles 5500000 7000000 7 -9.30% 2017
R.Griffin 7500000 6750000 -374 -34.20% 2016
J.McCown 6000000 6000000 -269 -34.40% 2017

Chase Daniel’s numbers are actually from 2014, where he sucked in limited playing time. His agency earned their fee. I’m not sure what the Eagles were hoping for, but they clearly didn’t get it. Of course, like the Bears, they traded up for a quarterback, so we’ll see how that goes.

RG3’s numbers were from 2014. He was terrible, but the Browns rolled the dice. Or they were transparently tanking. It’s so hard to tell with modern art these days. He was awful in Cleveland last year, but perhaps that was the plan. He’s available in free agency again.

Hoyer was remarkably good last season. Good enough that I’m going to have to do a deep dive to see if he gives San Francisco some hope of returning to mediocrity this season. He’s actually been above replacement level for a while now.

Foles was a one-year wonder under Chip Kelly. He was great in 2013, decent in 2014, and fell off a cliff in 2015. Last year he was… replacement-level. Now he’s backing up Carson Wentz. Seems about right.

Finally, we come to Josh McCown. McCown was terrible last season, and has never been good. Let’s see what team was dumb enough to make him the 6 million dollar man… “@!#?@!” GDI Jets.

It’s kind of surprising that there have only been eight contracts given out with either $5m+ guaranteed or an eight figure salary. Good quarterbacks rarely hit free agency. Let’s check the 3-5M range:

B.Hoyer 5250000 4750000 166 -5.30% 2015
J.McCown 5000000 4750000 659 32.10% 2014
C.Daniel 3333333 4750000 #N/A #N/A 2013
M.Vick 4000000 4000000 40 -6.90% 2014
R.Fitzpatrick 3625000 4000000 179 -3.60% 2014
S.Hill 3250000 3200000 -46 -14.10% 2015
K.Orton 5500000 3000000 51 4.00% 2014
M.Hasselbeck 3625000 3000000 -6 -11.50% 2013
D.Stanton 2733333 3000000 174 12.20% 2013

Does Chase Daniel just interview really, really well? It’s baffling. Here’s Hoyer again. As we know from above, he turned out to be more than worth it. Oh, there’s McCown again, coming off of a career year. We know how that turned out as well. McCown’s history lead to more skepticism from the Buccaneers than the Jets showed. FML.

Vick was an odd case. He didn’t manage to accomplish much in NY, but expectations were low. Fitzpatrick managed to roll together a few solid years, albeit for two different teams. Alas, his flaws were readily evident, so the Jets played hardball with him. He eventually signed, and got his revenge by stinking up the joint.

Hasselbeck was decent his first year in Indianapolis, but faded after that. Orton was suitably mediocre in Buffalo, and that was it for him. That leaves Stanton. Stanton was a decent backup in Arizona, who got hurt not long as Palmer did. He was stunningly awful last season, but that’s not particularly important to us.

OK, that covered the quarterbacks who struck it rich (for some definitions of rich). Let’s look at the quarterbacks who put up -100 DYAR or worse heading into free agency:

Name Salary Guaranteed $ DYAR DVOA Year
B.Gradkowski 2000000 -106 -21.00% 2011
C.Painter 615000 -375 -33.30% 2012
L.McCown 825000 -250 -73.40% 2012
C.Whitehurst 1525000 1000000 -160 -49.20% 2012
B.Quinn 715000 -440 -43.80% 2013
K.Kolb 3050000 1000000 -154 -23.10% 2013
J.Campbell 1875000 500000 -129 -50.20% 2013
B.Weeden 615000 -443 -36.10% 2014
M.Vick 970000 -228 -36.80% 2015
M.Schaub 2000000 2000000 -158 -220.70% 2015
R.Griffin 7500000 6750000 -374 -34.20% 2016
N.Foles 1750000 -353 -27.90% 2016
M.Sanchez 2000000 -227 -46.90% 2016
M.Cassel 2000000 750000 -172 -23.70% 2016
M.Schaub 2750000 500000 -146 -38.40% 2016
J.McCown 6000000 6000000 -269 -34.40% 2017
C.Keenum 2000000 1000000 -185 -19.60% 2017
B.Gabbert 900000 -158 -25.40% 2017
M.Sanchez 2000000 1000000 -117 -95.70% 2017

Charlie Whitehurst was a yard away from making this list twice. We’ve covered RG3 and McCown (sigh). The best of these signings is probably Foles in Kansas City, and he’s since gone back to Philadelphia. McCown’s agent is a god. Somehow the Sanchize keeps finding work. Blaine Gabbert is in the running for retiring as the career leader in negative DYAR. As for Keenum in Minnesota, I have to think the prognosis for Bridgewater is just awful.

So, where does this leave Kaepernick? Well, let’s look at his progression:

Name DYAR DVOA Year
C.Kaepernick 555 25.80% 2012
C.Kaepernick 791 16.60% 2013
C.Kaepernick 91 -8.40% 2014
C.Kaepernick -182 -21.50% 2015
C.Kaepernick -149 -17.70% 2016

It’s been a rough few years for Kaepernick. Actually, the last few years have been absolutely awful. The team around him has been bad, but so has he. It’s kind of amazing to see that he was awesome and cheap, and then lousy after getting paid:

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/san-francisco-49ers/colin-kaepernick-7751/cash-earnings/

So, what now? ESPN pontificated earlier today that the Seahawks should sign him to a $4M deal. Would he take that? I don’t know. I’m also not sure if Seattle would offer it. They have a limited amount of cap space and might be looking for a cheaper option if they decide they need one more backup quarterback.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/seattle-seahawks/

Then again, perhaps Kaepernick would be that cheaper option. Until he actually has an offer in hand, his situation is pretty opaque. Of course, there is also this:

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/san-francisco-49ers/colin-kaepernick-7751/market-value/

He’s still young, which can have some value. The fact that he hasn’t signed yet suggests the market for Kaepernick isn’t quite as strong as his age would suggest. I expect him to eventually end up on a team, and I’m quite curious about what that contract will look like. Best guess? 2-4M, 1 year. It might be a while though. His play really has been poor, so you’d be rolling the dice on recapturing the magic from the Harbaugh era, before there was a lot of film on him and defenses adjusted.

The ultimate moral of the story is that if you want to find a quarterback, free agency is a tough place to look. Some of those draft day trades look a bit better in this light.

 

 

 

 

More faith than the markets. First, 538:

538 Nate Silver 538 Nate Silver
Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 20155 143300 -20155
Bulls 8800 33000 -8800
Wizards 34900 16619 16619
Trailblazers 2867 86000 -2867
Thunder 8462 27500 -8462
Jazz 13845 28520 28520
Raptors R2 41958 160280 -41958
Rockets R2 9247 20990 -9247
Jazz R2 3313 53000 -3313
Spurs R3 2765 23500 0
Current Tab -49661

It has not been a great postseason for 538, but perhaps they can rally in the Championship rounds. As for ESPN’s BPI:

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 8720 62000 -8720
Raptors 15340 3854 3854
Bulls 11333 42500 -11333
X Warriors 4-0 4450 4045 -4450
Rockets 5000 1333 1333
Jazz 12359 25460 25460
Raptors R2 33126 126540 -33126
Celtics R2 5480 3079 0
Jazz R2 1188 19000 -1188
Spurs R3 9471 80500 0
Current Tab -19449

They’ll strike it rich if the Spurs strike the upset. I also suspect they make big bucks if someone knocks of Cleveland in the ECF, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

 

 

Ben and ESPN went HAM on the Raptors, and even provided some commentary on Twitter:

Jeff Ma had a straightforward response:

The kicker came in this exchange:

There is a lot to unpack here. First of all, Ben knows that we cannot run the series 10,000 times. Ergo, his statement is to never use BPI projections to wager on sporting events. Risk aversion is one thing, but in general that can be handled by using a fractional version of Kelly-betting. If you are advising to never bet your numbers, then you are admitting they are effectively worthless. Jeff continued to probe the issue.

Ben 10… thousand has a lot of confidence in the model? I need to point out that there are highly liquid markets that trade daily for Ben to track and test his model against. Thing is, that’s not what it was built to do. I noted this:

Jacob chimed in as well:

Jeff continued to probe.

OK then…

In the end, it really does come down to this:

Jeff Ma got in the final word.

So, in summation ESPN is producing highly off market numbers displayed as fact. Ben Alamar knows enough not to believe his own bullshit, and is unwilling to back his numbers with cash. Jeff Ma called him on it, and Ben walked away from the conversation. Just another day on a website that is somehow still free.

Let’s look at where Ben Alamar’s BPI stands right now:

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 8720 62000 -8720
Raptors 15340 3854 3854
Bulls 11333 42500 -11333
X Warriors 4-0 4450 4045 -4450
Rockets 5000 1333 1333
Jazz 12359 25460 25460
Raptors R2 33126 126540 0
Celtics R2 5480 3079 0
Jazz R2 1188 19000 0
Current Tab 6144

And let’s look in on Nate Silver and 538:

Team Risked To Win Result
Pacers 20155 143300 -20155
Bulls 8800 33000 -8800
Wizards 34900 16619 16619
Trailblazers 2867 86000 -2867
Thunder 8462 27500 -8462
Jazz 13845 28520 28520
Raptors R2 41958 160280 0
Rockets R2 9247 20990 0
Jazz R2 3313 53000 0
Current Tab 4856