Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2012 Draft Preview

Tomorrow is normally one of the most exciting nights of the year. It is a time when I think of my favorite teams in my favorite sport getting that impact player that will lead deep into the playoffs. The NBA draft is about blind optimism, but this year's edition is a little bit different than previous years. This year neither of the two teams I've followed (my favorite team the Jazz and my former local team the Twolves) have a 1st round pick. Before I get into that though below are my previous years draft previews.

Anyway, it is a little tough getting excited about a draft when the Jazz don't draft till the 47th pick and the Twolves don't draft untit pick 58. Jazz fans were only a few games away from the Jazz having two lottery picks, but Golden State completed the incredible choke job and kept their top 7 protected pick with of course the 7th overall pick. Also, the Jazz lost their pick because they made the playoffs (congrats on getting swept by the Spurs). For the Jazz and the draft it is wait till next year, which is exactly the position the Twolves find themselves in thanks to a couple trades.

Still there are possibilites. The Jazz could trade Golden State's future pick and/or any of their many post players (in order of likehood to get traded: Jefferson, Millsap, Kanter and Favors). The Twolves are always a wild card, so who knows with them. Also, maybe I should pay more attention to the Cavs, since they are the most local team from Columbus.

In anticpation of the draft, I won't give any advice for the Jazz or Twolves and also I'm not going to try and predict any crazy trades. It is hard to say trading Jefferson for the 5th pick makes sense, when I don't have a clue if that is even realistic. I will however provide my thoughts on the 6 players I've seen play plenty of times. As a Duke fan I feel qualified in writing about Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes. I feel especially confident after rating the 2009 UNC players as Lawson, Green and then a distant 3rd Hansbrough.

Here are my thoughts on those 6 players in terms of ranking:

1) Tyler Zeller - He is old and doesn't rate well in John Hollinger's Draft Rader, but I actually think he will be a solid pro. Would I draft him ahead of Harrison Barnes? It might depend on the team, but yes I think I would. He is a smart player and a very good shooter. Also, he is a legit 7 feet tall, which doesn't really hurt. I would have concerns about his strength and that he probably won't get the call where he leans into the defender and tricks the refs into a foul. However, I could see him being an effective pick and pop post player. I would draft him and immediately put him in the weight room.

2) Kendall Marshall - I really want to rate Kendall Marshall over Zeller, but a 7 foot post player who can shoot is hard to pass up. However, I do rate Marshall over other players partly because I believe he will be a better shooter than he has been so far. And if he can even be an average NBA shooter then the rest of his offensive game will be pretty amazing. He has a great feel for the game and knows exactly when and where to pass the ball to his teammates. It had to have been amazing to be a UNC fan and watch the transition from Larry Drew II to Marshall. Of all the players on UNC, I was most happy to see him leave early. He will be a good (maybe not great, but certainly a better chance of that anyone else on this list) NBA player.

3) Harrison Barnes - As much as I like Marshall, I can't stand Barnes. He is a much better athlete, shooter and has a higher ceiling than anyone on this list, but that doesn't make me want to draft him ahead of either Marshall or Zeller.  He seems like a jump shooter, who isn't even elite in that category. I don't know what the best way to desribe Barnes is, but I think he will be a bust. Of course I think more highly of the NBA potential of Barnes over the next player on the list....

4) Austin Rivers - It probably isn't a good endorsement of you as a player, when a fan is indifferent about you leaving their favorite team. That was how I felt with Austin Rivers, and even though Mason Plumlee drives me crazy sometimes, I was so much happier he decided to come back to Duke than Rivers. The reason is that don't really like Austin Rivers. I don't like his attitude, the way he plays the game and how somebody who is supposed to be so good could go 5-14 with more turnovers (2) than assists (1) against Lehigh. He is a shooting guard who can't really *shoot.

*Every single Duke regular that didn't have the last name Plumlee (5 players) shot better than Rivers from the free throw line. Rivers shot worse than team average from 3 (36.5% compared to 37.1%) and the field (43.3% to 45.6%).

He has an unbelievable ability to get to the rim, and he will never have to buy a drink in my presence because of this shot. However, I don't think he will be a good NBA player.

5) John Henson - Henson either becomes Andrei Kirilenko or he doesn't make in the NBA. My prediction is that he won't make it in the NBA. He is tall, but unfortunatly weak and he can't shoot. Every single time he took an outside shot against Duke, I think I audibly cheered. He has a unique game that translates to a few years as the 10th man on some NBA team before going overseas. Unless he completely transforms his game, I predict John Henson to be the biggest bust out of the 5 players listed so far.

6) Miles Plumlee - Easy pick for the last spot. I've seen some mock drafts with him as a possible late first round pick. That would be a wasted pick. I enjoyed my 4 years of Miles Plumlee and agree that he is a great athlete, but he just isn't a very good basketball player.

We will see how the draft goes and in a few years how my predictions line up with what ends up happening. When Barnes is a 3 time All-Star and Henson is the league's defensive player of the year then feel free to point this post out to me.

Missed Opportunities

I'm glad this blog is written online and not for a newspaper, because a lot of ink would have been wasted on homes that ended up not working out. The summary - we are now 0-4 in homes that we have offered contracts on. It is supposed to be a "buyer's market" and it isn't like we have any contigencies (financing is good, no homes to sell) that should hold things up, but for whatever the reason we are 7 months into living in Columbus and are no closer to owning a home.

I've been reviewing my notes and calculations on the homes we've liked and feel pretty comfortable with the concept that we should get something that fits what we need in our price range. The homes that we've missed out on have been because of an average difference of $15k per home. While $15k is a large amount of money, it seems strange to me that we haven't been able to make up that difference on at least one of the four homes that we've put contracts on.

Anyway, in case you looked at my last post you can take 25 Bullitt Park off the list. That was the 4th home offered a contract on and again it didn't work out. We were outbid (by how much I can only estimate) and were not given a chance to counter.

I think we are going to need to take a break from a little bit of home searching. Of course I write that knowing I just reviewed the list of homes we looked at last night, and was upset to find out that this one home I liked (not in Bexley) just move from "active" to "under contract." Still we need to find out what we want and hope for the best.

Next up on the blog list needs to be reviews of Yankee Stadium, Comerica Park and AT&T Park. It's been a good year in terms of visiting stadiums.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

House Update - Closing

Do you know that house I kept writing about? Like on June 7th or May 31st or April 30th or all the way back on February 26th. That house was supposed to be the "forever home" that M and I had always wanted. We spent more than a little amount of time making decisions on paint colors, fixtures and other things that were going to be part of the home. There had been plenty of frustration throughout the remodel project, but we kept telling ourselves that it would work out and it would all be worth it.

It didn't work out.

The inspector pointed out a problem with the roof and this past week we had a roofer come by and give his assessment. It wasn't good. The number was high enough to make us start to question whether or not we wanted to live in that home. It was already a pretty expensive home, and a new roof just added to that. We asked the contractor if he would be willing to pay for some of the roof costs and he was unwilling to contribute anything.

At that point we had to make the decision if we wanted to buy the home and take on the burden of putting on a new roof ourselves. I could understand the logic of being "pot committed" on this home, but really we were still at the point where we could back out without much of financial hit. It was tough that we had spent so much time with the home, but I think that this is a lesson in sunk costs. The amount of time and effort we spent on the home didn't change the fact that we were going to be paying a ton of money for a home that we didn't think was worth it. The home no longer felt right, and I am happy that both M and I came to that same conclusion.

So....we were supposed to close on Friday, but instead we were back house hunting yesterday. We are moving on and the good news is that out of the 5 homes we saw yesterday we really liked 3 of them. Below are the links if you want to check them out:

25 Bullitt Park Place
Pros - Feels like our type of home. Nice backyard, quiet street, great kitchen and updated bathrooms. I loved they layout of this home and how every space seems to be usable. They list 5 bedrooms, but really one of the bedrooms is the finished attic upstairs, which seems to be a perfect place for a movie/play room. And one big pro for this house that we didn't have with the 134 S Cassingham home is that we have our own driveway instead of a shared driveway.

Cons - Low walk score because it isn't that close to Main Street or the school. The house also doesn't have a formal living room, which doesn't really bother me that much right now. There really isn't much else besides a few cosmetic things like the walls needing a fresh coat of paint.

212 N Remington Rd
Pros - Really incredible family room and Florida room. Also, the master bedroom had plenty of closet space. This was a really nice home that had pretty much everything we could need or want.

Cons - Its in North Bexley, which isn't considered to be as desirable as Central Bexley. There is a shared driveway, but we did meet the neighbors and they seemed to be really nice. The main issue with the houses (and there really isn't that much) is that there isn't a backyard where any kids could play. The owners of this house seemed to customize it exactly what they were looking for, and I give them credit for creating a wonderful looking home.

345 N Ardmore Rd
Pros - This home was very unique and seemed to have the look and feel of a vacation home. The backyard was incredible. The kitchen and family room were open and looked to be in pretty good condition. Also, a big pro is that the lower level was finished.

Cons - There are only 3 bedrooms right now and one of the bedrooms is downstairs. It is set up, so that you could pretty easily create a 4th bedroom on the 2nd floor, but I am little hesitant on doing any work on any home. Finally, the basketball goal is on the garage in the alley, and actually playing basketball would be tough because the garage is on an incline.

All three of the homes are places I could see us living in, and considering what we saw in December they are big improvements over that crop. I would rate the homes in the order that I listed them, which conviently enough is how they are ranked in price. We will see what works out, and if need be we can attend some open houses again. However, one home is having an open house today that we won't be visiting - 134 S Cassingham.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Obama and LeBron

There are two arguments that infuriate me. 1) Obama is a socialist. 2) LeBron always chokes. It seems like those two arguments are based on the "perception is reality" theory without any consideration of the facts. And if perception is reality and your perception won't change then there is nothing that can be done to change your reality.

I will get to the Obama part first. In judging his first first term as President, I keep thinking that either by choice or by circumstances he has governed as a moderate Republican. Now if I said this to probably 95% of Republicans they would almost definitely argue that point. To them he is a Kenyan born, socialist who is out to replace free market capitalism with a government run country. He has raised taxes, personally increased gas prices and also did everything possible to foreclose on your home. In addition to that he has increased the national debt, and made the US a poor place to invest in. People don't like Obama and agree that he is an ultra-liberal President.

In actuality I agree with Bill Maher in this segment about Obama being a lousy socialist. Here is the recap with quotes:

"How can the same guy, Barack Obama, make these people feel that America has changed so completely, and yet make me feel like it has barely changed at all....if Obama were as radical as they claimed here is what he would have already done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague."

He then goes on to list examples of how Obama has done a lot of thinks Republicans have wanted and pointed out one of my favorite points about the performance of the stock market during his presidency. "Corporate profits are at there highest ever. If he is a socialist, he is a lousy the question remains - how can you guys be so unhappy with Obama, when I'm so unhappy with Obama."

Added to the above is Paul Krugman's article called This Republican Economy. Reading that combined with what I already know makes me really confused when Republicans showcase their hatred to Obama. Is it racism? Is it ignorance? Does it just come down to the fact that Obama is on the wrong team?
In general I think Republicans have gotten a lot of good things from Obama. In fact a lot of things that W probably would have done have been accomplished by Obama. Consider -
  • He didn't let the Bush tax cuts expire. This is a big one for me. He could have done nothing and immediately accomplished some (not all) of what he is trying to do with the Buffett tax. Reading this announcement, I am confused as to why Republicans would be upset with a President who hasn't raised taxes. Look at the top marginal tax rate and tell me why Republicans are upset?
  • He killed Osama Bin Laden. In a place where W failed (and he had his opportunities to succeed) he accomplished the main goal in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • There have been no terrorist attacks on US soil. While part of this has to due with luck (no matter how powerful I doubt that one person can control everything) it is something that Bush ran on in 2004. I remember the point that you should vote for Bush because he prevented any additional terrorist attacks after 9/11.
  • Bush bailout vs. Obama stimulus. It seems like both Presidents were willing to use government money to try and help the economy out. Here is W in his own words "I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention." But "these are not are not normal circumstances." How is that theory any different than what Obama was trying to do? He entered office during the same not "normal circumstances" and did his best to help the economy out. There are a lot of great charts on the economy if you were curious about how the economy has performed under W and Bush. 
  • Deficit: Bush increased the national debt by 89%. Obama is at 41% right now. If Obama gets reelected it will be a close call to see which President increased debt by a higher %. Neither will come close to Reagan, who increased debt by 189% during his 8 years. Anyway, some will argue that the reason the national debt under Obama has risen is outside of his control.
    1. Tax revenue declined because of the recession. And please note that the recession started Obama took office.
    2. Republicans blocked any attempts at balancing budgets because they refuse to raise taxes even one cent.
    3. Obama was continuing on the wars that W started.
    4. There are so many budget policies set before Obama took office that blaming him for the debt is like blaming a firefighter for burning the house.
  • Deficit (continued): Regardless of the blame you can't be a Reagan/W Republican and say anything poorly about how Obama has handled the national debt. Look at the % increases by year for each President on this chart. Republicans can try to blame Obama on the economy (unemployment is high), but it is hypocritical for them to attack Obama on the national debt. 
Again before anyone gets too upset with the comparison, note that I have left many things out. I didn't touch on the health care bill or any social issues. There are still plenty of differences between W and Obama for you to work yourself into a lather. However, my points above are just trying to bring up some counterarguments to some of the right's critique of Obama.

However, it doesn't really matter. If you hate Obama then you will believe what you want to believe. I didn't try to cherry-pick those stats above. Sure, I used a clip from Bill Maher and an article from a liberal economist Paul Krugman. However, just because those two sources are liberal, doesn't mean they aren't also correct.

The same rationale comes true when people attack LeBron James. Before I get to anything look at his numbers. For those that says he always chokes in the playoffs then pick between the two lines below:

LeBron 1: 27.6 ppg, PER 27.2, TS: 56.9%, reb: 10.5%, assist: 34.1%,WS/48: .233
Lebron 2: 28.4 ppg, PER 27.1, TS: 56.5%, reb: 12%, assist: 33.5%, WS/48: .235

Which player is better? One is LeBron career regular season line and the other is his playoff line. To say he always chokes in the playoffs means not looking at the stats, not remembering game 5 against Detroit in 2007 or the shot in Game 2 against the Magic or him shutting down the Bulls last year.  He is 27 years old and hasn't won a championship yet. Do you know who also was 27 and hadn't won a title yet - Michael Jordan? This is despite having a much better supporting cast (Pipper or Mo Williams?) for a longer period of time.

People will pick and choose what they want to fit their narrative against LeBron or Obama. For the LeBron haters it his last two games against the Cavs or how the Finals ended last year. There are even examples when LeBron does the right thing and is blasted for it. In 2007 he made the absolute correct play in passing to Donyell Marshall for a wide-open corner 3 in game 1 against the Pistons. He was questioned on that play despite the fact that the corner 3 is 2nd most efficient shot in the NBA (right behind a dunk) and also that a 3 pointer would have won the game by one point. It doesn't matter that it is the right play if you have already made up your mind that LeBron always chokes. Just like it doesn't matter if people write well-researched pieces debunking the myth that Kobe is clutch.

For Obama it is the birther argument, or the death panels or any of the other socialist conspiracies that you want to believe. Like Maher, I just can't understand the extreme hatred for Obama. It can't because of facts, since Obama has come no where close to being the most liberal President in history.

It is just sad sometimes trying to talk to people who make completely irrational arguments. If you want to discuss whether or not Obama has been a good President or if LeBron will win a title this year then I am all for that. If you want to just bring out the same tired arguments as others without doing any research then save your time and effort. The world would be a much quieter place if people only talked when they actually knew what they were talking about.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

House update

The house is coming along well and depending on how the inspection goes we should be closing on June 22nd. It is much better walking through a home that actually looks ready as opposed to what we saw last week. Below are the new pictures:


Living room


Master bedroom looking into the dressing area

2nd floor bedroom




TV room (except we don't know where to put the tv)

1st floor bathroom

Monday, June 4, 2012

2 years and counting

I've looked up to my sister my entire life. A combination of her age (6 years older), intelligence and maturity equaled someone I could use as a role model. That isn't to say I always or even often followed her path, but still I like to think I learned some things from her. One big learning was how she handled her relationship with my now brother-in-law. For her and Buck it has always been about equality. They are equal partners on the day to day decisions, but also on the important things like where to live and how to parent. And the best thing about the equality is that it seems to come natural to them. It doesn't even seem like something they have to work at, but rather comes from the fact that they respect each enough to treat each other a equals. I know that might sound simple and expected, but there are plenty of other relationship examples that don't seem to have this base.

I've learned from them and would like to think that M and I have a similar relationship. Again we don't always have the same interests as my sister and brother-in-law, but as I age I think I can recognize and appreciate the similarities that we do have. Also, (and don't think this is a small thing) I enjoy hanging out with them. In many I still look up to my sister and now my brother-in-law as people that have experienced things that I probably will be experiencing soon.

The reason I am writing about both of this is that it is anniversary week. For my sister and brother-in-law it was their 10 year anniversary. For M and I we have our 2nd year anniversary tomorrow. This is kind of a strange anniversary for us because we still haven't settled down. As any regular reader of my blog knows (or pretty much anyone who talks to me) we don't have a house yet and are still living with Mary's parents. This has been a better experience than expected, but it is still something I am looking forward to ending as soon as our house is ready. I enjoy living with M and want to start our life in our new house.

For their anniversary my sister and brother-in-law have a tradition of writing a "state of the union" letter to each other. I'm not going to do that here. 1) It's their tradition. 2) It would be something to be shared with M alone and not in a public forum. I will say that I am happy with how everything is going. One of my good friends told me that she thought the decision to get married would provide a lot of relief and clarity to my life. She talked about how her husband kind of chalked it up as "well, I've made that decision and just move on." I liked that viewpoint in that it means that there is no more analysis and not coincidentally that provides more time to relax. I can just enjoy being married. I no longer have to worry about whether or not so and so likes me or about who pays for dates or the other questions that seem so daunting in retrospect.

Now with 2 years under the belt it is fun to look ahead to see how we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Will their be kids? Will there be job changes? More importantly - do you think our house will finally be finished by then?

Whatever the answers, I am happy to have M by my side. Happy Anniversary.