The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hosts File And You

In a very odd way, I ended up returning to my Internet roots to solve a problem I'd wanted to solve for some time.

A little reveal here: I have had some issues with some websites on this big ol' place we call the Internet. (You can probably guess which ones; I'm not going to go into the details.) Now, for some time I've known that IE and most other browsers and internet apps access a file called "hosts" to map host names to IP addresses. Basically, if you type in some sort of shortcut in a web browser, it takes you to the list in the hosts file first before looking it up on the internet. The main use of this file nowadays is to use it to block websites at the core - basically, keeping you from even getting to the site at all.

I've used Spybot Search & Destroy to populate the Hosts file with blockable websites, and learned quickly to add my own as well. However, there was one thing I could not figure out: how to do it in the Mac OS.

I found out that there is a hosts file in OS X.4, located over in a hidden (from the Finder, at least) folder called /private/etc/. The Mac OS, however, is very very touchy about changing files like this, since anything in the OS's hidden files are password protected, as with most UNIX-type coding.

So I had to figure out how to get to that file and then edit it with a copy of the hosts file that I'd ported over to my Mac via my trusty thumb drive. It wasn't until I found some arcane coding tips that I discovered I could do it using an editor named "nano", which was part of the Mac application called... Terminal.

Terminal. Which was how I developed my first website on Exec-PC, about 16 years ago. And yes, it was back using the old Mac system 8. The app I used with Exec-PC, though, was something called pico... which was the editor that nano is based upon.

After a few starts and stops, I realized that I could use a UNIX code to edit the hosts file:

sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

By using the SUDO code, I could get around the password protection and save the thing, once I edited the file. And, with nano, I could simply copy and paste the hosts file list from my text file version to the hosts file on my Mac.

Nice and easy, right? Heh, WRONG. It wasn't that I couldn't do it - I did - it was that the file was 8,016 lines long. It took a good long chunk of time to get it all pasted; a little more than two hours, since nano could only post about one line per second. Once it was done, though, I saved it and cheered mightily.

Then came the fun of clearing the DNS cache. Took me a couple of stops and starts to do this in Terminal, but I got it done - and the blocking worked.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Early Sunday Morning Thoughts

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Strat-O-Matic Fun

I spent the majority of this week that I had off on vacation doing some playing around with my copy of Strat-O-Matic Computer Hockey Version 6. Mostly, it was an effort to try to update the teams so I could do some season simulations; the main problem is that the player sets that I have are from the two seasons before and after the "You-Know-What".

Since SOM doesn't allow you to directly alter player cards by entering player stats, you have to do some "estimating" for those players who either don't have cards (virtual cards, of course) or have cards that were practically non-existent (20 or fewer games played for players who have played much more in the ensuing three seasons). This wasn't easy, considering that about 10-12 players per team were either new or drastically changed over the ensuing seasons.

I followed the following rules of thumb in adding/subtracting players:
I made the estimates of similar players using an Excel spreadsheet (of course; you'd expect anything less from me?) and the stats from 2004 and 2006. There were two methods of comparing players:
Now, as a Predators fan, there was this nagging question I had about Nashville, and whether or not the Preds would be a different team if a certain player currently playing for Salavat Yulayev Ufa would make a difference with this team. Guess what - it would. The Predators ended up finishing fourth overall in the Western Conference. The two biggest surprises? The Phoenix Coyotes AND the New York Islanders made the playoffs, while the Penguins missed the playoffs.

I'm not sure if I may have had some Mustard-colored glasses on with some of the players on the Predators, but this team just looks like it should be better than it is.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stealing Teams (Part 2)

I got some feedback about my previous post on franchise transfers, and after sitting down to do some figuring and remembering of sports history, I came up with some interesting facts:

Stealing Teams

An interesting point was brought up on Twitter recently among Predators fans wondering if the team should try to take advantage of the Titans' failings so far this NFL season. The discussion led to a reference of how Bud Adams dragged the team to Nashville from Houston, and how the Predators were the "true" home team in the city.

This led to discussions about whether or not it was "right" to support a team that had been, in essence, "stolen" from another city and their fanbase. This gave me some pause, because of the obvious situation with my beloved Brewers (fka the Seattle Pilots). I wondered to myself how many of the 122 current Major League teams could legitimately say they were beholden to no other city for their franchise - either from expansion or from the inauguration of the league in which they began play?

The good news is, about 60% of the teams in the four major leagues fit this bill. However, there are some names that are not on the list that would surprise you.

Here's the "All Original" list:
There are two teams that I was hesitant to include, because of the nature of their current existence: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the San Jose Sharks. The Angels haven't left the Los Angeles metro area since joining the AL in 1961, but it's not like they represented the city of Los Angeles the whole time (despite what Arte Moreno may want us all to believe).

The Sharks are a completely different story, though: yes, they are an NHL expansion team, but for the longest time their initial owners (the Gunds) were part-owners of the Minnesota North Stars. The Gunds purchased the North Stars after their NHL club, the Cleveland Barons, had ceased operations in 1978, and in an agreement with the league they essentially merged operations of the two franchises. A decade later, the Gunds wanted to get out of Minnesota, and to do so the NHL did some wrangling to allow them to have the Sharks as an "expansion" franchise, while a group led by Howard Baldwin (who actually wanted a Bay-area franchise for the NHL) were given the North Stars - and both teams were subject to an expansion draft in 1991 (after, ironically, the Stars had made a run to the Stanley Cup finals against the Penguins).

Back to the list - there are a couple of very interesting omissions. The Chicago Cubs, for example. How could a team that had continued to play in the NL in the same city since 1876 be considered a "beholden" team? William Hulbert, the team's owner and founder of the National League, essentially raided the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association to build his White Stockings team. The real issue, of course, was that Hulbert was tired of the contract jumping of players from team to team, and wanted to have an organization of baseball clubs that respected their fellow members' contracts with players from year to year. Still, Al Spalding essentially brought with him to Chicago most of the roster of the National Association champion Boston Red Stockings when the NL started up in 1876.

The Red Stockings (who, of course, we now know as the Atlanta Braves) managed to recover from this to win eight pennants before the end of the century, but in a somewhat backwards way (as practically everything was back in these nascent days of professional sport in the US) the Cubs as a franchise were essentially beholden to the city of Boston and their baseball club.

I could give reasons for other teams' omission from this list (the Blackhawks, for example, are essentially the Portland Rosebuds of the WCHL, as are the Red Wings really the Victoria Cougars of the same league), but it's pretty transparent that most of the teams not on this list are obviously transients. Yes, that includes the Yankees, who were the Baltimore Orioles for a whole of two seasons in the AL before moving to Manhattan in 1903.

What's scary is considering the teams on this list that were true "founding members" of their sports leagues. There aren't many out there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Notes

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Yep, it's that time again: The 2009 MLB Standard Runs and Cy Young Points All-Star Teams.

For those of you unfamiliar: Standard Runs is a Run Estimation metric (somewhat) of my own creation that takes OBP, Total Bases and Net Steals and adjusts them to account for all runs actually scored in a season. I explain it elsewhere in this fine blog, as I also do for Cy Young Points for pitchers.

Here's our lists of the best players in both leagues at their positions:

C - Joe Mauer, MIN (16.1 OFIB, 131.7 SR*)
1B - Miguel Cabrera, DET (16.0 OFIB, 127.8 SR)
2B - Ben Zobrist, TAM (13.9 OFIB, 108.1 SR)
3B - Michael Young, TEX (11.7 OFIB, 101.7 SR)
SS - Derek Jeter, NYY (12.5 OFIB, 120.4 SR)
LF - Jason Bay, BOS (12.7 OFIB, 107.2 SR)
CF - Denard Span, MIN (9.9 OFIB, 93.0 SR)
RF - Ichiro Suzuki, SEA (17.0 OFIB*, 113.7 SR)
DH - Adam Lind, TOR (13.6 OFIB, 117.4 SR)

C - Victor Martinez, CLE-BOS (12.9 OFIB, 103.4 SR)
1B - Mark Teixeira, NYY (14.2 OFIB, 127.1 SR)
P - Mark Buehrle, CHW (0.15 OFIB, 0.96 SR)

ST - Felix Hernandez, SEA (39.5 CYP*, 1.289 PER)
ST - Zack Greinke, KCR (26.0 CYP, 1.194 PER)
ST - CC Sabathia, NYY (25.3 CYP, 1.616 PER)
ST - Justin Verlander, DET (23.0 CYP, 1.657 PER)
ST - Josh Beckett, BOS (22.3 CYP, 1.781 PER)
RL - Alfred Aceves, NYY (14.5 CYP, 1.566 PER)
RL - Matt Palmer, LAA (13.4 CYP, 1.812 PER)
CL - Andrew Bailey, OAK (18.2 CYP, 1.015 PER)
CL -Mariano Rivera, NYY (15.3 CYP, 1.061 PER)

C - Brian McCann, ATL (9.6 OFIB, 79.4 SR)
1B - Albert Pujols, STL (21.5 OFIB**, 160.9 SR**)
2B - Chase Utley, PHI (15.8 OFIB, 114.8 SR)
3B - Pablo Sandoval, SFG (18.3 OFIB, 117.5 SR)
SS - Hanley Ramirez, FLA (16.1 OFIB, 126.6 SR)
LF - Ryan Braun, MIL (16.0 OFIB, 131.7 SR)
CF - Matt Kemp, LAD (13.44 OFIB, 104.70 SR)
RF - Andre Ethier, LAD (13.39 OFIB, 104.67 SR)
P - Micah Owings, CIN (0.93 OFIB, 7.77 SR)

1B - Prince Fielder, MIL (17.2 OFIB, 139.7 SR)
1B - Derrek Lee, CHI (16.7 OFIB, 115.9 SR)
LF - Matt Holliday, OAK-STL (14.7 OFIB, 114.3 SR)

ST - Chris Carpenter, STL (40.3 CYP**, 1.159 PER)
ST - Adam Wainwright, STL (29.8 CYP, 1.382 PER)
ST - Tim Lincecum, SFG (23.8 CYP, 1.289 PER)
ST - Josh Johnson, FLA (22.7 CYP, 1.555 PER)
ST - J.A. Happ, PHI (17.2 CYP, 1.481 PER)
RL - Blake Hawksworth, STL (8.7 CYP, 1.050 PER)
RL - Nick Masset, CIN (7.6 CYP, 1.187 PER)
CL - Jonathan Broxton, LAD (19.0 CYP, 1.267 PER)
CL -Heath Bell, SDP (14.5 CYP, 1.411 PER)

P - Bronson Arroyo, CIN (-2.54 OFIB, 1.08 SR)
C - Dioner Navarro, TAM (-7.0 OFIB**, 30.8 SR; worst OFIB of any regular position player)
1B - Chris Gimenez, CLE (-3.1 OFIB, 6.6 SR)
2B - Aaron Miles, CHC (-4.2 OFIB, 8.5 SR)
3B - Bill Hall, MIL (-3.9 OFIB, 18.6 SR)
SS - Ronny Cedeno, SEA (-5.2 OFIB, 11.2 SR)
LF - Trevor Crowe, CLE (-2.6 OFIB, 17.2 SR)
CF - Willy Taveras, CIN (-3.9 OFIB, 32.9 SR)
RF - Brian Giles, SDP (-3.7 OFIB, 16.3 SR)
DH - Aubrey Huff, DET (-1.8 OFIB, 8.1 SR)

CF - Carlos Gomez, MIN (-2.7 OFIB, 30.3 SR; worst SR of any regular position player)

ST - Aaron Harang, CIN (-8.17 CYP**, 2.116 PER)
ST - Jose Contreras, CHW (-6.41 CYP*, 2.546 PER)
ST - Francisco Liriano, MIN (-5.54 CYP, 2.704 PER)
ST - Justin Masterson, CLE (-5.46 CYP, 2.350 PER)
ST - Jeremy Guthrie, BAL (-5.35 CYP, 2.378 PER)
RL - Felipe Faulino, HOU (-5.10 CYP, 2.921 PER)
RL - Yuseiro Petit, ARI (-4.58 CYP, 2.703 PER)
CL - Brad Lidge, PHI (-0.15 CYP, 3.367 PER)
CL - Matt Capps, PIT (1.9 CYP, 2.725 PER)

* - Led League. ** - Led Majors.

Major League averages (per 486 PA/162 IP):

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Twelve Types of CCM

The 12 Types of Contemporary Christian Music Songs
(aka the Gospel Music Tropes)

I've been playing around with this list for a while, and figured I'd share it with the world since it came up in conversation on Twitter.

Most of the lyrical content Contemporary Christian Music (CCM, also known as "Christian Rock") can be boiled down into a set of 12 different categories. Now, I'll let it be known right now that this is not a knock against any particular CCM artist, but when music tends to get formulaic, it loses any particular meaning to the listener. This is important, since the primary purpose of most CCM songs is for outreach and encouragement.

So, here they are. If you think I missed a few, or if you can come up with a few examples of your own, feel free to comment.

1. Hallelujah Praise The Lord Again
Examples: "Praise The Lord", The Imperials; "A New Hallelujah", Michael W. Smith
This is when the main theme of a song is about praising the Lord or singing Hallelujah – over, and over, and over again. These make good "worship songs" - like Hillsong's "For All You've Done". The problem is that there's not a whole lot beyond the "Hallelujah Praise The Lord" to encourage people.

2. Name-dropping
Examples: "El Shaddai", Amy Grant; "One True God", Mark Harris

God has many names; if the main theme of the song is about one of them (or more of them), it fits this type of song. By the way, the one thing that bothered me over the years was what exactly El Shaddai, El-Elyon na Adonai, and Erkamka na adonai actually meant. Thanks to Wikipedia, I found out: "God Most High", "God Almighty, Oh Lord" and "I love you, Oh Lord". Which, translated into English, makes it sound more like entry #1.

3. The Love Song To Jesus
Examples: "Calling On You", Stryper; "Free To Be Me", Francesca Battistelli

The first song in this genre of CCM songs was actually, "What A Difference You've Made In My Life" by B.J. Thomas and Ronnie Milsap. Songs of this content almost sound like the singer is talking about their boyfriend/girlfriend and not God or Jesus. Ms. Battistelli's song (or is it Mrs. Goodwin now?) isn't quite as "Oh I lurrrvve you Lord" as this category would normally require. That's one of the keys to these "tropes", as you could almost refer to them by - don't overdo them, and you have a pretty good song.

4. The Conversion Story
Examples: "Lucas McGraw", Petra (1974); "You Found Me", Big Daddy Weave
This is a song that tells about the conversion experience of the singer – or of another person. Big Daddy Weave's version is a Saul/Paul-like conversion experience, which isn't very common (at least, not with Christians I know). If it's a true testimony of what the singer's conversion was like, though, it can be very powerful. "Lucas McGraw", however... I wonder sometimes if Bob Hartman doesn't do a facepalm every time he hears that record.

5. Cover a Hymn
Examples: "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", Chris Tomlin; "How Can I Keep From Singing?", Chris Tomlin
Chris Tomlin is the champion at this kind of genre nowadays, but there have been plenty of Christian rock bands who've done a rock version of a hymn. In fact, this one punk-Christian rock band (One Bad Pig) did a cover of "Holy, Holy, Holy".

6. Pick a Verse, Any Verse
Examples: "More Power To Ya", Petra; "Everlasting God", Lincoln Brewster

Choose a verse in the Bible, and form an entire song around it. Petra was somewhat famous for doing this sort of thing; it's actually an easy "crutch" of sorts for Christian singers who've gotten a new meaning from a passage of scripture. Another example would be Amy Grant's "Thy Word", but that's also an example of our next category...

7. Sing a Psalm for Sixpence
Examples: "How Majestic Is Your Name", Keith Green; "How Great Is Our God", Chris Tomlin
This is a variant of the "Pick A Verse," except that the verse or verses are from the original songbook of God, The Psalms. As I stated previously, Amy Grant's "Thy Word" is a lifting of Psalm 119:105. David was a great man, a man after God's own heart, but he wouldn't have been a very good CCM artist - he was way too detailed in his lyrics.

8. Throw in a God Reference
Examples: "Find A Way", Amy Grant; "Free To Be Me", Francesca Baltiselli
This is a song that's about something non-scriptural – life in the modern world, unfaithful spouses, dents in the fender, and whatnot. Then, in one of the last parts of the song, the word "God" is thrown in. The problem with this type of a song is that even The Beach Boys ("God Only Knows") could write one like this. A lot of CCM prior to 1998 and Steve Camp's call for reformation was leaning towards this - trying to be "mainstream" but using God as a "hook".

9. The Storyteller
Examples: "For Annie", Petra; "Slow Fade", Casting Crowns

Sometimes the "storyteller" song gets confused for a country song, because it tells about suffering or heartbreak. Usually, the end of a "Storyteller" song is either "how they found God" (see "Mommy Don't Love Daddy Anymore", Rez Band) or "how we can keep this from happening again" (see "For Annie"). Mark Hall and Casting Crowns have gotten this right - witness not just "Slow Fade", but the song "What This World Needs".

10. The Prayer
Examples: "Crack the Sky", Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart; "Give Me Your Eyes", Brandon Heath

When a song sounds more like a prayer to God than anything else, this is what results. If it's plain that the person involved wants something that only God can give him/her, the only thing missing from this song is an "Amen." And even then, you might get that thrown in. This category sometimes gets thrown in with the "One More Hallelujah" category, like Christy Nockels' song, "Life Light Up".

11. The Words Of God
Examples: "Rise Again," Dallas Holm & Praise; "By Your Side", Tenth Avenue North
This is when the singer takes the First Person Singular of God. It can be controversial when used, though; Dallas Holm's song was actually converted from first-person ("drive the nails in my hands") to third person ("laugh at Him, where you stand") in different versions. It can be very moving when done right, though.

12. Combination
Truly great CCM songs are a combination of one or two of the previous types of songs – mostly because it's very hard to write from strictly one POV for an entire song. If there's thought, concern, and a desire to stick to scriptural tenets in the music, you have something that's lasting - and not just a one-hit wonder that you hear 20 times on K-Love for a month and then practically never again afterwards.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

What No Sale Means

Nothing like a little "light reading" for an overnight... I, like most other knowledgeable hockey fans, sat down and read through Judge R.T. Baum's decision of "No Sale" in the Coyotes bankruptcy case. There was a lot there, but I think there are a few things that can be taken from the decision: