Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How Good is Carmelo Anthony?

First and foremost, I’d like to welcome myself to this blog AND welcome myself out of blogging semi-retirement, thank you.

But back to the question. I’m asking not in the rhetorical sense of when Carmelo does something great and you ask aloud to no one in particular “How Good is Carmelo Anthony?!” but in the actual sense. good is he? My initial goal was to examine whether he’s under-appreciated or over-rated, and question whether us Knicks fans should just be ecstatic to be looking at a top 4 playoff seed, or should always be expecting better? But each of those issues opens up new cans of worms, and there are posts to be written there for another time. I decided instead to look at Carmelo this season by the numbers, against the NBA this season and against former Knicks in franchise history. Hopefully it provides context to decipher just how good Carmelo is this season.

As for today’s NBA: Number 7 is currently second in the league in scoring (as of this writing) at 28.4 points per game. While he is not in the top 10 in either rebounds or assists among small forwards, John Hollinger ranks him no.3 in Player Efficiency Rating for small forwards. Who is he behind? No surprise that it’s LeBron James at 1 and KD is Not Nice at 2. The day Carmelo ranks ahead of either or both of those guys in anything other than NCAA championships, it will be a day of great rejoicing for Knicks fans. I think that day is coming, but for now, being number three is solid. 

Not 1, Not 2, but 10 Championships!

But who cares about scoring, it’s all about winning!! Right? Well, if we’re going by the numbers, the Knicks have a better winning percentage than all but two teams in the East. Nevermind their recent struggles and concerns about their playing style holding up - looking at the numbers, the Knicks are on pace for their best regular season finish and playoff seed since 2001.

It’s been alot longer than 2001 since a Knicks player has put together a season like the one we are witnessing Carmelo compile. If he keeps his current scoring average, it will be good for 4th All-time in Knicks history, falling justtttt behind Patrick Ewing’s mark of 28.6 in 1990. Second is Richie Guerin (29.5 in ‘62) and first is Bernard King (32.5 in ‘85).

Again - forget all that scoring talk. This is New York, baby, and winning is everything. According to, Guerin’s Bockers in '62 and King’s in '85 both failed to make the playoffs, so throw them out. Ewing’s season saw the Knicks go 45-37, earn a 5 seed, and knock out the Celtics in the first round before losing to the Bad Boys in the second round.

Ewing in '89-'90: 28.6 - 5 (seed) = 23.6
Melo in ‘12-’13: 28.4 - 3 (projected seed) = 25.4

So according to a calculation which I just created as I typed it, (The Kavanaugh Playoff/Scoring Index) Carmelo is having the best KP/SI season in Knicks history. So that’s how good he is, but we’ll track both the scoring average and the projected seed as the playoffs approach.

Even in my presentation of the numbers, it’s probably clear to see my bias towards the guy. I just want to play basketball historian, but in real time. How much would any of us love to witness Ewing’s season in 1990, or Bernard King’s 32.9 points per game season, which earned him the only Knicks’ scoring title? 

If you're like me and would've loved to see those seasons, than we should be treating Anthony’s season with the same sort of reverence as it unfolds before us...even if the Knicks continue to lose to the Raptors, beat the Spurs, and everything else in between as they trudge towards the end of April.

PS - Speaking of Knicks history, how/why did the Knicks put Earl the Pearl Monroe in a straight jacket?! Whatever, Denzel. They won the championship:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Funny are Bit Characters on The Simpsons?

Skip to the middle of the article if you don't want to read my writing and want to watch funny Simpsons clips. I won't be mad.

I'm a middle school teacher in the Bronx and I had a particularly rough lesson the other day. I won't get into details because that happens from time to time and I don't like to dwell on the negative. In last week's Sports Illustrated feature about baseball star Bryce Harper, Tom Verducci writes, "He studies himself on video--but never his outs...Outs are negative reinforcement." Of course I learn from my mistakes, but some days just need to be forgotten.
Anyways, as the students happily left after about an hour of tormenting me, I sarcastically thought to myself, "I'm just glad I could be part of their fun." Now, where had I heard that before? It took me a little while to figure it out, but then it came back to me: Hans Moleman!*

*To recap: My desire to forget my horribly-behaving students led me to recall a Sports Illustrated article and a supporting character on The Simpsons. Ah, how the mind wanders...

For those of you who don't know Hans Moleman, first of all, you either lack a sense of humor or simply missed out on countless laughs in the past 20 years. Second of all, here's what Wikipedia says:
Hans Moleman is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons...He normally appears in a running gag, where he usually suffers unfortunate, seemingly fatal events.

Thinking of Moleman cheered me up immediately and got me thinking about other bit characters on The Simpsons. Homer and the other members of the family are absolutely hysterical, but there's no way the show would have lasted as long as it has without the seemingly endless list of stereotypical, kooky, satirical, and/or otherwise ridiculous characters. Snake the Criminal, Duffman, Principal Skinner, Krusty the Klown, and the list goes on.

I know there are are probably tons of Websites devoted entirely to The Simspsons, so I would never embark on any type of Top 10 list for fear of missing tons of great material. Still, I was able to compile 10 hilarious moments involving the show's bit players. I embedded videos of the moments along with my commentary. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did putting it together!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How Wimpily Painful are Papercuts?

Apparently, wimpily isn't really a word, but I'm going to use it anyway and play this post under protest.

Anyways, I got a papercut--technically, a foldercut--at work yesterday and I'm embarrassed by how poorly I took it. The wound is so small that I couldn't even get it to show up in a photo on my iPad. Still, though, the damn thing was painful. When I brought it up at the bar, there were a bunch of people that agreed with me about the "throbbing pain" that accompanies the papercut. Looking back on it this morning, I think we should all just say a silent prayer of thanksgiving that our country hasn't had a military draft in over a generation.

I'm sure my friends and and I aren't alone in treating the papercut like a mortal wound. The present-day legends from Linkin Park wrote a whole song called "Papercut." Here are a few of the lyrics:

It's like I'm paranoid lookin' over my back
It's like a whirlwind inside of my head

Amen, boys. I'd rather be wading through the rice paddies of Vietnam in the '70s than dealing with this thing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

How Lazy were Lunchables?

This post was originally called "How Poor were Lunchables?" but my family was broke when I was growing up and we never ate Lunchables.* Also, I think Lunchables were actually kind of expensive.

*When I say broke, I mean broke. I remember running out of hot water as I crammed into the bathtub with my little brother, then my Dad boiling water on the stove to give us a "blast of hot." We'd go from freezing to being scalded back to freezing again. My parents owe me for not calling ACS about that child abuse.

But you know why our family or even Bob Cratchit's family would never eat Lunchables? Because it only takes three minutes to make a sandwich with regular ham, turkey, or bologna. I mean, look at the ingredients for a Lunchables ham "sandwich":


Listen, I know kids are expensive ($235Knot including college) and can turn any parent into Jack Nicholson from The Shining. But still, we shouldn't be trying to give them heart attacks before they turn twelve.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How Misleading are Dinosaur "Bones"?

I just finished reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, a terrific read if you're even a little into National Geographic-type stuff. There are a ton of facts in the book that absolutely boggle the mind, but here's one that I found very disturbing:

The fact is, we don't really know a great deal about the dinosaurs. For the whole Age of Dinosaurs, fewer than a thousand species have been identified (almost half of them from a single specimen), which is about a quarter of the number of mammal species alive now. Dinosaurs, bear in mind, ruled the Earth for rougly three times as long as mammals have, so either dinosaurs were remarkably unproductive of species or we have barely scratched the surface (to use an irresistibly apt cliché).

For millions of years through the Age of Dinosaurs not a single fossil has yet been found. Even for the period of the late Cretaceous--the most studied prehistoric period there is, thanks to our long interest in dinosaurs and their extinction--some three quarters of all species that lived may yet be undiscovered. Animals bulkier than Diplodocus or more forbidding than tyrannosaurus may have roamed the Earth in the thousands, and we may never know it.

Can you imagine if we had those millions of years of fossils? If the other three quarters of the Cretaceous dinosaur species had been found, there would have been enough material for 52 Land Before Time movies. Here, I did the math:

1/4 of species found = 13 Land Before Time films (Yes, I had to check.)
All species found (hypothetical) = 13 x 4 = 52 Land Before Time films

Holy Little Foot, we're missing a lot of information!

How Absurd is Wearing a Tank Top through the Airport?

I was flying from O'Hare to LaGuardia yesterday and it was bitter cold in Chicago. The weather people were saying it was about eight degrees outside. Anyways, I saw this guy on the security line:

I didn't quite know what to think, but I thought about him entirely too much. At first, I figured he was a savage, plain and simple. Why would you wear a sleeveless shirt and a pair of shades through the airport checkpoint? Then, I started to wonder if maybe he was going to a warm-weather destination. That would make it much less weird.  Besides, once you consider some of the other creatures you encounter at the airport, this guy didn't seem so bad. Let's have a look:

Friday, February 15, 2013

How Deceptive are "Pitchers and Catchers Reporting"?

This week, some of the best baseball writers out there--Tom Verducci, Tim Kurkjian, and Steve Rushin (in Sports Illustrated)--dug into the baseball writer cliché cache and each wrote an article about the beauty of "pitchers and catchers reporting" to spring training.

While I did enjoy aspects of each article, the essential message was incorrect.
Verducci: "Boy, if ever we needed spring training none too soon, this is the year. For the quick demise of winter, look not to Punxsutawney but to Arizona and Florida. Snowmelt for a baseball fan begins this week with the sweetest three words this side of a Valentine's Day card: pitchers and catchers.
Kurkjian: That's why it's our favorite time of year. It makes you feel young again, no matter how old you are, no matter how many times you have been...It is a sign that the long, cold winter is nearly over and that sunshine and summer vacation is on the way. It is a time for optimism, a fresh start and hope. No one has lost a game, the rookies have so much promise, and the veterans believe it will be their best year."

Rushin: It's called February, when pitchers and catchers have just reported, and green fields, garishly lit, are about to blaze on TV, and the Cubs are momentarily unbeaten, and the Mets might yet find three outfielders.
FranT: "Hey, it's basically summertime because pitchers and catchers reported! Time for skinny dipping and Fourth of July fireworks!"

Yeah, no it's not...