Mailbag for May 5 2011
Greetings and welcome to another Mixed kNuts Mailbag. In general, since I asked for them in the first place, I try not to turn questions away. Thus you will occasionally find me answering awkward ones – don’t blame me, blame your fellow readers.
I heard you broke a woman’s foot at some Christmas party? – @OsypL
That is a filthy lie! The real culprit of this story is former U.S. National Champion Eugene “Dancing Machine” Harvey. I have it on good information that Eugene has taken quite a few dancing lessons, but that didn’t stop him from accidentally stepping on his dance partner’s foot at the Pinnacle Christmas party and breaking it. The entire party had to stop while the ambulance came and collected this poor lady from the dance floor. Being the sensitive creature that he is, Eugene was nearly inconsolable for a whole week.
Feel free to dance with the Yooge, ladies, but watch your feet.
Who’ll be a favourite on Wembley, MU or Barça (assuming MU don’t embarrass themselves tomorrow)? – ZXSphynxx
(I answered this before the lines came out after the Schalke game.) Barcelona will likely be favourites, probably by at least a quarter goal. The three best tacticians in football right now are Pep, Mourinho, and Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite how amazing Barce have looked over the last few years, Sir Alex is still the best manager there is. That said, Barcelona have a rather large talent advantage in the midfield and on the wings, and they are now a HUGE public team, so the line will have to be solidly in their favour.
If Barce actually open a half goal favourite, I think you’ll find most sharps betting Manchester United simply for value. (The Champions League final is like the Super Bowl, except with even more money wagered on it worldwide.) At the Nou Camp, Bracelona -.5 might make some sense – at a neutral site, no way.
(Checking the line, Barcelona did open up a half goal favorite. You’ve got to really really love Barcelona at the price to bet on them.)
What was it like to edit one of Rizzo’s articles? – chpwright
I love Rizzo, but that man hated his editors like no one else, despite the fact he was a clean writer! The articles weren’t just challenging because they were long, they also had cursing, dick jokes, and ridiculous tangents. In fact some articles were just one giant tangent – how do you edit that to help it make the greatest possible sense?
One comeback article was literally 150 pages single-spaced in Word. I think it was outstanding, but man alive it was miserable to edit.
What are the Top 5 pound-for-pound MMA fighters of all time? – Sean Peconi
Judging this one is hard because the eras are so different. Royce Gracie was an amazing pioneer, but he did what he did when no one else actually knew jiu jitsu. Dan Severn used to take people down and then beat the crap out of them with his shoulder of all things because the UFC had awful rules back in the day. So in judging this, I’ve tried to err towards skill set and overall dominance during the fighter’s prime.
Top 5 (no order) : Fedor, Georges Saint Pierre, Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Bas Rutten
Honorable Mention: Matt Hughes (Machida would go here but it’s still early.)
Fedor is the most dominant heavyweight ever. In his later career he became a big pussy with regard to who he chose as opponents, but for almost ten years in Pancrase and Pride he couldn’t be touched. This is in a sport where you expect most good fighters to lose at least one out of every five fights, and he never lost until the end.
GSP is ridiculous and there isn’t anyone in his weight class that comes close to him. BJ Penn is an outstanding, if sometimes lazy fighter, and GSP has completely manhandled him. He even managed to avenge his loss to Matt Hughes twice. He might be slowing down a little because he’s almost 30 and his recent fights are always going to decisions, but I don’t know who has enough talent to beat him in that weight class.
Anderson Silva seems pretty obvious, but Wanderlei is at the end of his career and is pretty punch drunk at this point. Once upon a time, he was the most ferocious and unstoppable fighter on the planet. When he was in his prime, he beat everybody around him and terrified guys to boot.
Bas Rutten is perhaps the most controversial of the choices. He’s the smartest fight commentator by a mile (Joe “retard strength” Rogan, while fine, is a troglodyte compared to Bas. Rogan was a stand-up comedian and yet Rutten is far funnier), but his MMA career was equally impressive. The problem is most Americans never got a chance to see him outside of his brief time in UFC. His losses came to Shamrocks (both Frank and Ken) and some random Japanese dude (who just happened to be a Pancrase World Champ) when he just started out in Pancrase and didn’t understand ground fighting.
Even though Bas was somewhat old when he moved to UFC, he was still awesome, and he’s definitely one of the smartest MMA guys you’ll ever encounter.
They say the worse you are at MTG, the better you are at trading. As you’ve probably already heard, I bought a $1.2Mil Mexican Villa in Cabo off of my trading profits last year. Why do you think a player can’t be simultaneously good at the game and at trading?
~ Jonhny M, Ohio
It’s notoriously difficult to multitask and do both things really well. If you are at a tournament to play, you should be locking in on that and relaxing between rounds. If you are at a tournament to make mad bank by trading, that is obviously your focus, but being in the tournament will cut into your profitability, sometimes dramatically. Just look at Saito – how did he ever expect to get trades in when he was playing so damned slow? In general, these Magic economy guys spend a little too much time thinking about numbers and not enough time attacking for two.
Enjoy the Villa – hope you paid off the local drug dealers and cops, or you probably won’t get to keep it.
What was your nickname for Millionaire Playboy Pete Hoefling when you first met him? – B. Bleiweiss
*Looks around sheepishly. Kicks some dirt.*
Don’t judge me, you guys didn’t see him. We were at an IPA Block PTQ in the old SCG building’s basement, and before play started, Pete stood up on a chair and shouted a bunch of rules to the 75 of us in attendance. The short stature, the bossy demeanor, the crazy salute at the end when he wished us good luck for the rest of the event… Little Hitler seemed appropriate.
That was also the PTQ where Richie Proffitt absolutely demolished the lone bathroom in the store, making it unusable for two rounds. I, however, did not know this and really needed to go. I don’t know if it was a trait inherent to Richie’s dumps or if the ventilation in the old building was weird or what… but this was a backdraft dump. I couldn’t smell anything as I approached the room, so thought it was safe to go in. Then as soon as I closed the door, the smell exploded out of the floorboards and I wanted to die. Unfortunately, I was stuck until my bidness was done. I tried breathing through my shirt, but that caused gagging, so in order not to puke, I just held my breath. It’s too bad I didn’t know Dan Barrett then, because I might have set a world record for human breath-holding before I was done.
When I opened the door, three of my friends – who had seen Richie crush the bathroom earlier, but failed to tell me about it – were sitting nearby and gave me a round of applause, laughing at my horrible fate. Magic players are bastards. That said, I’ve had/made bad first impressions with a number of guys who later became some of my best friends.
Ravager felt like cheating. Jace feels like owning a nicer car then your neighbor. – @witzo
They both kill you the same amount of dead, but it certainly feels different. Ravager was like Ed Norton in American History X in its punctuated brutality. You sit down for a match, see artifact lands, know what your enemy is, and probably die within four turns. Skinheads aren’t exactly trying to hide their beliefs, are they?
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is just as good at fucking people up, but he’s so much more patient with it. Jace is the type who drugs your food, strips you naked and climbs into a warm bath with you while you are aware, but totally helpless. He’ll then slit your wrists ever-so-gently and hold you while you bleed, waiting for your pulse to stop and the light to leave your frightened eyes.
Is Jace to blame for Sunderland’s injury woes in 2011? – Russell Tassicker
Speaking as an Arsenal fan, a team that usually has so many injuries you’d think their field of battle was somewhere in Afghanistan instead of on the football pitch, I feel your pain. The positive elements you can focus on are that you are staying up, you have a rich owner willing to bankroll future star acquisition, the Stadium of Light is a modern facility with supporters who actually show up, and Steve Bruce generally seems to know how to coach a defense.
The negatives are that your squad might be very injury prone, you don’t have too much depth, one of your most important players (Lee Cattermole) is extremely prone to stupid tackles and red cards, The Premiership is extremely deep in talented teams with big revenues now and Sunderland are not one of them, and Steve Bruce generally does not know how to coach offense, especially away from home. If everything goes right next season and all your players stay healthy, eighth is about the best you can hope for.
If you could snap your fingers and get a new way to play Magic Organized Play what would you add? -@sunmesaglenn
This one is hard because I’m almost too far removed from attending regular MTG events to have a decent opinion. Back in 2006/2007 I would have said WotC needs to start supporting EDH – it’s just too cool not to. It took them a few years, but they got there. Now I think WotC absolutely needs to start supporting real Cubes online (not some namby-pamby WotC standard cube), but that’s not so much OP as a Magic Online thing.
Back when I was a regular player in the U.S., I really REALLY wanted more competitive, big money Standard events. Standard was always my favourite format, and it was tragically undersupported by Wizards of the Coast until Forsythe and co. got wise and changed all that. Now SCG has huge Standard events all over the U.S. there are a bunch of Standard Grand Prix, and Standard makes regular appearances at the Pro Tour, so I can’t complain about that at all.
Honestly, I’m really hoping for what I mentioned in the MTG and WWE post – I want the production values on the Pro Tour to go way up and turn those events into a more entertaining spectator’s sport. I know the audience has been booming there, but I know there’s a lot that can be done to make it better.
“What is the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make moving to England?” “How difficult did you find the immigration process?” – @michelle_tait
Wellllll, to answer your second question, I got kicked out of the country for about two months. To cut a very long story short, I’ll just say it was difficult and at no point should you expect someone to ever apply any common sense to this process.
There have been a few major adjustments I needed to make here in the UK that I didn’t expect. The first is that all the shops close by 6PM (grocery stores stay open a little later), so you definitely need to take care of your bidness during the day. The second is that I can’t drive here, so despite having driven a car with no accidents since I was 16, I haven’t driven here at all since we moved. I need to go get my UK license, but obviously I’m not in any real hurry to do so. The other really annoying thing about being here is the fact that the vast majority of my friends are American, so we don’t get nearly as much crossover time to talk as we used to.
The big adjustment that probably makes me the happiest has to do with the language. The Queen’s English and American English overlap, but are definitely not the same. I find this to be quietly hilarious. I just love all the differences in word choice and linguistic nuance, and I’m not sure it will ever grow old to me. When I speak here I definitely use a lot of different words that I wouldn’t use in the same context in the United States, and I do so to be understood without having to repeat myself three times. Plus, a lot of the celebrities here have ridiculous accents here that cause me to giggle every time they are on TV (like Cheryl Cole and Wayne Rooney… and they’re English! Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are two steps beyond) .
How often do you run afoul of Magic writer egos or hurt feelings when working as a content manager for a Magic website? – Geordie Tait
All the time. Hell, there’s still potential for it to happen even when I am writing. If you express an opinion, you give people the opportunity to overreact to something, and writers are a sensitive lot.
Working as an editor for a site that doesn’t have a strict publishing schedule means herding cats is a large part of your job. Look at current SCG – they had four articles up for a Thursday, despite the fact that they have a huge writer corps and we have a new set coming out. To avoid this you need to plan, communicate, badger, cajole, and sometimes beg people to write articles when you need them to write, even if they aren’t particularly in the mood.
The other thing you have to do is provide regular feedback for what is good, what isn’t, and particularly, what really works and what really sucks. Some writers thrive on this, others will end up hating you for it but it must be done.
Shortly after I took over SCG, I did a general review of all the writers on the site, clipping and pruning stuff I felt needed to go away while making space for new additions. One person’s work was really terribad, the kind of work you see submitted only when someone isn’t really putting any thought whatsoever into their writing, and instead just churning out articles to make a few dollars. I sent an email saying this (politely) and received a response that I needed to have more respect for the writer and what they’d accomplished. Now I’d just explained in detail how their last eight articles were poor, culminating in an article that was so bad it looked like something I would write if I were making a parody article of bad tournament reports… how do even you respond to that?
Your recent articles have been the equivalent of you taking a giant shit on a plate and offering it up for pay. Unfortunately, we only accept shit when it’s been properly garnished. Add some microgreens and herb-oil infusions to your next article and we can talk about respect.
So yeah, editing a big website with big-name writers who have big egos to go along with it? Big pain in the ass. You have to make sure the site/owner gets value, the needs of your schedule get met, the readers and writers both stay happy, and your budget doesn’t end up looking like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.
I still loved it.
Have you ever considered, now that you’re coverage-retired, qualifying for the Pro Tour? – blisterguy
I have, but I work in sportsbetting. That means weekends, and basically all of them. I’m reasonably certain I could qualify here in the UK with the proper amount of work, but finding the time to actually attend tournaments is basically impossible. So I’ll just sit over here on the sidelines and continue to heckle people in the meantime.
How much of an edge do you need to take a prop bet? Examples ? – torerotutor
The basic answer to this one is you need to have a bigger edge than the vig. Our soccer product has a neutral line of -103/-103 or .97/.97 depending on what odds format you prefer. That works out to a 1.5% buffer of protection for the house (which isn’t much. American-facing books typically charge a minimum of -110/-110, which is 5%). In order to win against lines like ours, you need to be right about 52% of the time. That’s actually not that hard to do. (Sportsbetting is absolutely, positively a game of skill at low-vig books.)
With regard to prop betting, it’s a bit tougher to figure out. If you are looking at sportsbooks, props will have much higher vigs because they have much higher degrees of uncertainty – your edge still needs to overcome that. If you are just betting with your friends, the barrier for wagers goes down, but your edge now becomes predicated on the consequences. If it’s just money, you need to have a large edge to bet large. If it’s embarrassment stakes, then you need to either not care about the consequences OR have a very large edge. Also, be very careful when making drunken wagers, since regardless of what you might think your edge was at the time, these rarely seem to pay off. (Unless you are betting against Chris Lachmann, in which case they always pay off. Lachmann is the worst friendly prop bettor the world has ever seen.)
Dear Mixed Knuts, what is the length of your erect dong, in inches? – @#1Geordie_Tait_Fan
Aaaand I’m out.
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