Hot Take: Middleton Injury Really Hurts

It’s not so much that the Bucks will miss Middleton’s 18–20 points a game (they will). It’s not that they’ll miss his spacing on a team that starts 3 non-shooters (they will). It’s not that they’ll miss his team and individual defense (they will). But the Bucks are going to have a really hard time filling that 36 minutes.

Basic counting stats as well as numbers like RPM or VORP tell you Middleton is a very good player. One of the best shooting guards in the league without question. And it’s easy to look at those numbers and say “man it will suck without him.” But to measure losses like this you’ve got to focus on the trickle-down effect on the depth.

For one, Middleton offered a few more lineup possibilities on a team that had few. Khris allowed the Bucks to go small with his ability to play either wing position and get a lot more shooting on the floor. Traditionally this meant staggering Jabari/Giannis minutes, but could even mean brief spurts with Giannis at center. And when the Bucks are big, or just long, he ensures there’s someone the defense has to pay close attention to. Now Delly and Teletovic are the only established outside shooters who expected to see major minutes. It’s looking worse than last season from a spacing standpoint.

Far worse, is the replacements and potential rotations at this point. There’s no telling what the lineups will be given this injury was announced last night, but the likely outcome is the traditional guards end up being MCW and Delly. If that happens, it will be the same struggle as last season, made worse by substituting Delly for Middleton. Further, the hopes of Carter-Williams carving up bench defenders goes out the window and the second unit starts looking very weak.

The team could try and get creative by starting Teletovic. You’d probably see Parker playing more of a 3 role with Giannis at the 1. The problem of course, is who guards the other backcourt player? That lineup could work against teams with one really weak guard, but those opportunities are few. In most cases it would be a defensive disaster, but randomly they might outscore people or force coaches to adjust early.

Let’s assume the likely scenario. This means the initial downgrade with whichever guard gets pushed to a starting role (between MCW and Delly — this means we’ve got a downgrade at a starting spot because of them moving up as well as the loss of them as a bench player). This also means Vaughn, Jet, Brogdan, Ennis are all getting more playing time and likely against better players. Ennis likely figured not to play much and the rest are unknowns due to experience or age. But I think we all assume Vaughn does not look like a promising breakout candidate and Terry is not someone from whom you want to rely on getting 20 productive minutes a night.

Worse yet, the Bucks are over the cap and paying 15 players this year. So while I’m sure fans are pumped about the idea of bringing in Gary Neal as a last minute free agent add, it’s pretty unlikely they’ll find a way to make room. Couple that with the total lack of a market for trading any of their big guys (especially Monroe) and the options are bleak. There’s no way the Bucks would find someone anywhere near comparable to Middleton on the market, but it appears they won’t even find someone to upgrade at the 7th or 8th bench spot without giving up substantial assets.

If Khris is out a full 6 months, he’ll come back with 10–12 games left in the regular season. Were basketball were 100% about stats, the Bucks might drop 3–4 wins based on the Middleton injury and ripple-effect of roster shuffling. And assuming he doesn’t come back in time for a 10 game win streak, that’s likely enough to knock an already fringe playoff team back into the lottery. Since this injury is far more complex than just the boxscore effect, it could send the team into a far greater spiral. It’s a real shame to not even be into preseason and suddenly go from being a possible 5–8 seed down to potentially high in the lottery, but these sorts of results seem to always follow the Bucks.

The one hope, similar to last season, is that the team continues its future-centric mantra. The two young stars are still very young. This would be a wasted year in the sense that we’re fast approaching luxury tax territory and season tickets for the future arena won’t sell themselves, but the team still had zero title hopes this season. Hopefully they remember the lessons of previous ownership that a 1st round playoff loss does not make a difference in the end. Point being, there’s no reason to make a desperate move just to salvage 2016. This year may be painful, but let’s hope we don’t try to fix that by sacrificing future seasons.

The Palomino – Everything you need to know about Milwaukee…

Trying something new and randomly going to post about bars/restaurants that I either really love or really hate. Oddly enough, I’m not putting these in the “hate-love” category. I figured it best to have one section dedicated to nourishment.

First up, is a place that gets a very bad rap around town for various reasons. The Palomino.  Well, it’s pretty highly rated on most sites, but since it’s a mainstream hipster hangout, you’ll find the elitist hipsters bashing the place.  Yes, the late night crowd can be painfully annoying (but not rowdy!).  Yes, it’s dirty.  Yes, the service can be very slow.  BUT!  It’s still great.

First off, this place is Milwaukee in a nutshell.  It’s a dirty old bar on the south side of town, there are hundreds/thousands more like it.  It’s gone through a renaissance in recent years as the neighborhood has turned from old Polish ghetto to hip urban hangout.  You can get a big greasy burger with a side of something deep fried, as well as some of the better vegan grub in town.  You can listen to the Black Keys on the jukebox, as well as cheer for the Packers.  And there’s a lot of drinking going on.

My favorite part about the Palomino, is that it’s mainly soul food.  The #1 thing I miss about my short time living in Texas is the food, and this place does an admirable job of capturing the southern eats.  I dare say it’s a more realistic interpretation of southern food than the uber popular Maxie’s Southern Comfort (although, to be far, Maxie’s does try to jazz up dishes from all over the south, where Palomino sticks to the greasy staples).  They do a great burger, an admirable poboy and the brisket is pretty good considering it wasn’t smoked.  Although, I’d get it on the sandwich if you’re a real BBQ maniac.  The vegan dishes are pretty impressive.  I would actually take their tofu/seitan buffalo wings over a LOT of the wing options in town.

Oh and if it’s late at night, and you’ve had a few too many drinks, getting a basket filled with tots, mini-corn dogs, jalapeno poppers & cheese curds is pure bliss.

My only complaint?  I wish they had fried pickle chips instead of spears.  I don’t think the south has come to an agreement on which is better, and I know the spears are a bit more common… but the slices of pickles are so much more enjoyable to munch on.  You end up with like a 1.5:1 pickle to breading ration instead of like 8:1 with the spears.

Windows 7 Media Center

I think I’m finally catching up with the rest of the geek world… I’ve been running Windows XP on my media center (not media center, 32 bit edition on a 64 bit system… yeah, I know) because I already owned the license and I didn’t know if I’d really stick with the concept. However, we’re using it more and more and we’d like to add functionality. So tomorrow night I should be installing Windows 7 Professional. That’s step one.

I think I’m finally catching up with the rest of the geek world… I’ve been running Windows XP on my media center (not media center, 32 bit edition on a 64 bit system… yeah, I know) because I already owned the license and I didn’t know if I’d really stick with the concept.  However, we’re using it more and more and we’d like to add functionality.  So tomorrow night I should be installing Windows 7 Professional.  That’s step one.

The next goal is getting a Ceton InfiniTV 4 tuner card and dumping TiVo.  I still love the TiVo interface, but getting 4 cable streams right to my media center is too good to pass up.  Plus I’ll be able to share all the content to the xbox in the bedroom.

I already know Windows 7 will be fine, but the Ceton thing is a little scary.  They haven’t been around too long and I’m not always an early adopter on computer hardware (I’ve been playing this game too long, I want my home systems to be stable).  So since there isn’t a ton of content out there about the Ceton device, I’ll update with my experience.

For the record, I’ll be using Time Warner and replacing a TiVo HD with the Ceton/Win7.

It’s a Jersey Thing

First off, I realize I’m late here. But, I had to make some mention of the last South Park episode. I don’t watch the Jersey Shore. During the first season, I felt compelled to see what it was all about, recorded an episode, got about 10 minutes in before giving up. It was painful, the cast members should all be euthanized and very little actually happened. However, I feel like I know everything about the show thanks to Bill Simmons’ obsession and the general media adoration of this group of Jersey freaks.

First off, I realize I’m late here.  But, I had to make some mention of the last South Park episode.  I don’t watch the Jersey Shore.  During the first season, I felt compelled to see what it was all about, recorded an episode, got about 10 minutes in before giving up.  It was painful, the cast members should all be euthanized and very little actually happened.  However, I feel like I know everything about the show thanks to Bill Simmons’ obsession and the general media adoration of this group of Jersey freaks.

So when I saw South Park was doing a Jersey Shore spoof, I was a little disappointed.  I expect South Park to go after pop-culture phenomenons, that’s fine… but I think my biggest issue was it came within a week of a painfully bad Bones episode on the same topic.  But thankfully, the guys at South Park understand how to make a quality parody.  It wasn’t their best episode, but it was certainly worth watching.  Having Al Qeada fly jets into the Jersey crowd was an interesting touch.  I really expected more backlash from it, but it seems the nation is more concerned about how they portrayed their beloved Snooki.  Well, news flash, Snooki is a disgusting little monster that only exists to scare people and take advantage of them sexually.

iPhone 4… am I a fool?

I feel suckered… this is exactly what Apple wants. You get teased with the great features of the new product, realize your current one can’t come close to handling those features, feel compelled to upgrade your hardware. But what are my real alternatives?

I’ve already mentioned my disdain for using my iPhone 3G with iOS4.  Yesterday was my breaking point.  I either was going to order a new phone or pull out my backup flip phone and shut down my data plan for 6 months until I could upgrade.  After some talking with ATT, they actually seemed empathetic toward my situation but expressed their limited ability to act due to Apple’s strict pricing agreement.  So they offered to credit my bill to make up for not getting the full discount on the phone (since I’m 6 months from upgrading, I get a price in-between the 2 year price and full MSRP).  So I’m now on the waiting list at the Apple Store.

I feel suckered… this is exactly what Apple wants.  You get teased with the great features of the new product, realize your current one can’t come close to handling those features, feel compelled to upgrade your hardware.  But what are my real alternatives?  I live a very plugged-in lifestyle and would really not want to go an extended period of time without a mobile internet device.  Despite the improvements, the Droids are still not at the point where you can do everything you do with your iPhone (but they are getting quite close) and let’s face it, Blackberry is falling way behind.  I like the Apple phone, I like the OS.  Despite having a fairly high aptitude for technology, I do enjoy not having to exert too much energy thinking of how to accomplish tasks and simply being able to do what I want with ease (productivity and usability are the signatures of almost any Apple product).  By all accounts, performance on the iPhone 4 is not an issue, so if I get the same functionality I have now, minus the performance issues, with additional desirable features (better camera, better display, some sort of multi-task, etc) I should be content with the outcome.  I still feel a bit suckered.  A bit used.

PS – for any of my 12 or so readers: If you don’t like ATT, just know this; I don’t like any mobile provider.  However, I get a way better than average price through ATT and live in an area with great coverage.  So the dropped call, no coverage issue has been a non-factor for me.  The good price makes it foolish to switch.  Just wanted to throw that in before some Verizon or Sprint fanboy chimed in.

Dear Apple: I hate IOS4

I have a 3G and 6 months left on my contract. I upgraded to IOS4 and now my phone is unusable. Maps? Takes forever to load, crashes frequently. SMS? Same. iCal? Ditto. Not even going to get into 3rd party apps.

I have a 3G and 6 months left on my contract. I upgraded to IOS4 and now my phone is unusable. Maps? Takes forever to load, crashes frequently. SMS? Same. iCal? Ditto. Not even going to get into 3rd party apps. Now I have a choice between paying double for a new phone during the contract period or spending 6 months with a crap phone. I had the same problem 10 year back when Apple shoved OSX out earlier than they should’ve. The difference then? I could go back to OS9. Today? I’m pretty much stuck. Thank, Apple.

Co-Sleeping = Monkey Pox 2010

Call it what you will, “co-sleeping” (as the local major media would say) or “drunken baby squashing” (as the conservative radio hosts call it).  Regardless, babies dying from sleeping with their parents is the story that local media is currently trying to push above all others.  Recently, a fourth baby in the Milwaukee area died while sleeping in the same bed as an adult.  Essentially, these parents either lack a sufficient crib or simply fail to use it.  The parent either rolls over onto the child or the baby simply suffocates on the pillows, blankets or other parts of the bed.  In one case, the parents admitted to consuming alcohol before taking their baby to bed.  In years past, this situation would have been lumped in as another SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) case.  Yet, in the early part of 2010, we have made a distinct effort to make a separate issue of these incidents.

The real concern is what results from all this hysteria.  As this story continues to pick up steam, one can just feel some sort of regulation coming.  In our society, it pains us to believe that people could have such poor parenting skills that lives could be in jeopardy.  Whenever we face a social epidemic like this one, the gut reaction is to throw a lot of money at the problem.  While a great argument could be made for making this a crime, the parents will likely be portrayed as victims.  Tax dollars will almost certainly be used to create more websites, more pamphlets and more training videos.  We may not be far from a world where hospital or police/fire officials will need to come home with you from the hospital to inspect your living conditions.  Essentially, having a child will be a process similar to getting your driver license.  Yet, despite our spending, the problem will continue.  The sad reality is that these people are not mentally ready to care for another life.  Countless references already exist to help new parents avoid potential disaster.  The city and county of Milwaukee have several resources available to get a free crib.  Even the means of finding these resources, a computer with internet access, is freely available at a public library.  With all of this at our disposal, can we really call these people victims?  Why not be honest and admit that these parents negligently cared for their offspring. Research proves that sleeping in an adult bed with your newborn is dangerous.  So rather than spending millions to attempt to educate these inept parents, let’s instead spend thousands and open up a jail cell for them.

Performance Enhancing Drugs and Underground Sports

For years now, we’ve been inundated with the eerie statements of Jose Canseco.  Steroids are rampant in baseball and over the last 10-20 years, virtually all of our favorite players were using needles, pills or cream to recover from injuries, build muscles, hit home runs and throw strikeouts.  The “Steroid Era” was seemingly so widespread that the Onion recently proclaimed Craig Counsell to be the best clean player of the steroid era.  Humorous as that may be, it could be closer to the mark than we’d like to admit.  You cannot look at one great player from the last decade and say with absolute certainty they were clean.

However, the problem runs deeper.  Far deeper.  Deep into the underground of American society.  Into a place many of us pretend does not exist.  It starts, with a trip to the grocery store.  You see, I needed to buy some eggs a few days back.  I have no different a routine than most of you.  I grab a carton, check the condition of the eggs, move on.  Yet, on this trip to the market, something was different.  Upon selecting my carton of eggs and opening the container to look for cracks, I almost lost my grip.  It wasn’t a moment of clumsiness, oh no, it was a case of unexpected weight.  Like going to pick up a very small box filled with unexpectedly heavy auto parts, your whole balance is thrown for a moment as your brain tries to process the concept of a lot of weight in a small package.  There was something different about these eggs and it was incredibly obvious as soon as I gazed into the carton.  They were colossal.  The label proclaimed them to be “jumbo” but a more appropriate term might be “Egg-Kong” or maybe “Eggdingo.”  The sheer mass of these eggs made me nervous.  I’ve seen chickens before and I’d hate to know the condition of their hind-quarters after laying just one egg of this magnitude.

However, the concern didn’t just stop with the hens.  Again, this is about sports.  What do giant eggs have to do with sports?  Very simple.  These enormous embryos could only mean one thing: PEDs had found their way into American cock-fighting.  Take a deep breath, but it’s true and it’s probably been that way a lot longer than we’d like to admit.  I know most of us think US cock-fighting is pure and the drugs and weapons are only a by-product of the inferior Mexican version of the sport.  Think about it though, where did cock-fighting come from?  Isn’t it natural that trends from Mexico would find their way up here?

If the eggs are exhibit A, I’d like to submit exhibit B.  A reference that flew right under our collective noses back in the 90’s.

A chicken the size of a man that knows karate.  Was this just a silly cartoon?  Weird foreshadowing of the future?  Or was it the reality that none of us wanted to acknowledge?

Let’s face it, we all got caught up in the rush of the sport.  We all wanted the next fight to be better than the one before it and didn’t care how it happened.  Are the chickens suffering because of all this?  We can’t say.  Nobody knows for sure what impact the steroid era will have on humans and especially not chickens.  That’s a choice where the fighters will have to live with unknown consequences.  But it’s not the chickens I fear for.  Indeed it’s all of us.  By pushing the boundaries of fowl athletics, we’ve forever tainted one of the oldest sporting traditions in North America.  We’ll never be able to take our grandchildren to a cockfight like our granddads did with us; because doing so would be embracing cheating.  Shame on all of us, we did it to ourselves.

Put on your tin foil hats NBA fans…

When I decided to attend the Bucks game against the visiting Lakers Wednesday night it wasn’t because I’m a die-hard NBA or Bucks fan.  It wasn’t because I thought the Bucks could win (local Bucks talkshow host Steve Pfeiffer of WSSP said he’d be happy with a 12 or less point loss).  Really the only reason I went was because I had never seen Kobe Bryant play in person.  He is one of the last superstars from the days when I was a die-hard NBA fan that I had not seen.  So I expected to see Kobe play well (39-7-4).  I expected to see the Lakers big guys look way too strong for the Bucks.  I also expected to see more Brandon Jennings (~ 5min in the 4th and 0 min in OT).

So when there was about 6 minutes left and the Bucks were up by 5 I was just waiting to see the Lakers go on a run.  But they couldn’t… the Bucks had a shot and then I saw one of the most shocking scenes not involving Artest punching fans.  The refs just changed the course of the game right before our eyes.  First, with the bucks still up 5 and only 3:31 left, Gasol makes a short jumper and gets fouled.  Shot is good.  Free throw is not.  However, on the free throw Artest jumps into the lane about 5 seconds early and seems to pull Ilysova with him, who then goes to block out for the rebound.  Whistle blows, should be Bucks ball.  Instead, they call a lane violation on the Bucks!  Gasol gets another chance at the free throw and drains it.  Now it’s a 2 point game.  Bogut manages to tie it up late and Kobe misses a fadeaway as the clock runs out, sending us to overtime.  The Bucks look strong the majority of overtime, despite missing several shots for a stretch they have the lead with about a minute left.  Then it really happened.  Kobe has the ball about 15 feet out.  Everyone is crowding the key, Kobe drives, spins, takes a few extra steps and knocks over two Bucks players.  He makes his shot in the process.  Whistles blow but there is no call.  The refs just stare at each other until finally a block is called.  Kobe converts the 3 point play and brings it to within a point for the Lakers.  It was the most gut-wrenching backwards call I’d ever witnessed in a live game.  After that, the Bucks can’t make a shot and just like a scene from a movie, Kobe hits the game winner.

It really doesn’t matter that the Bucks lost.  The two calls I mentioned were a 4 point swing in Lakers’ favor.  The NBA and its followers can come up with plenty of examples where the Bucks missed opportunities late to overcome those 4 points.  They are all bad arguments though, because they rely on the “what-if” world of revisionist history.  I don’t care what happens if the Bucks make a few foul shots.  Should they make them?  Yes.  Might they have changed the course of the game?  Maybe.  The more important point is that the very hard to defend calls late DID change the outcome of the game.

Turn the volume down

I know this has been written about to no end… but I’m going to briefly rant about it again as my right ear felt like it was going a little quieter on me yesterday.  See, when you’re in a rock band and you have a show, the best thing to do is crank all your amps to 10, ask the sound guy to jack the levels and have your drummer hit everything as hard as possible.  The physical energy from the sound waves translates into emotional energy for your audience.  My math may be off, but it’s usually on about a 2:1 scale.  So if your music is hitting the audience at 140db, it’s creating 280J of good times.

There are a few problems with this theory though… first there’s the whole problem of likely hearing loss and also severe pain (which usually happens somewhere north of 125-130db).  Thankfully there are nice ear plugs for that stuff which nobody uses.  The other part, when you crank your music up like this, you’re being a dick and it usually means your band is shit.  Not “the shit.”  “Shit.”  It’s a dead giveaway to seasoned audience members.  When they see a band that keeps cranking the volume up during sound check or the first few songs, it’s usually because the band stinks and they need the cacophony of loud to give the illusion of cohesive musicianship.  If you think your band is good, you’re doing yourself a great disservice as behind 130 or so db our ears cannot distinguish much.  Any of the nuances in your playing get lost in a giant whirlwind of noises.  Imagine a loud Harley, 737, jackhammer and circular saw all running in a small room at the same time.  It just becomes a blur.  You can’t distinguish one noise from the other.  Beyond that, unless you are playing a club that supports a few hundred people, chances are the PA system can’t support your volume.  In the usual 50-100 person venue, you’ll be lucky if the PA can support your vocals over the natural volume of a drumset and 30 Watt tube amp.  Once you mic the snare/kick and guitar amp and crank them all up, you are assuring yourself that the PA will start clipping/distorting and nobody will be able to understand the lyrics or maybe even know anyone is singing.

I’m not saying that your noise rock band needs to be playing at cafe poetry night volumes.  But actually listen to yourself more often.  When you’re doing sound check, rather than just making a really loud stage volume and assuming it’s great, have a band member or trusted friend go out into the audience.  Try playing a song with guitars, drums, vocals.  If you’re in a small venue (around Milwaukee that might be the Cactus Club), have the drummer play with no mics, then run the guitar/vocals through the PA.  Turn the volume up until everything sounds pretty level with the drummer.  Then you can mic some of the drums if a few things are getting lost.  If you don’t believe me, stick a camcorder in the back of a room and record one of your normal shows compared to one where you do sound like that.  Tell me which one sounds better.  If you think the absurdly loud one does, it probably means your band needs more practice.