Life and times of Avindian

I have once again been absent for some time. In particular, I’ve yet to write on the Hall of Fame election, which I plan to do in the not-too-distant future. Similarly, I have some overdue thoughts on Madden 17 to share.

I am thinking of properly starting my YouTube channel soon. I’ve gotten a little bit of experience doing some videos; once I’m a bit more comfortable, I will start posting videos. Until then, my friends!

Hall of Fame Coverage

I deeply apologize to you, dear readers. I have been quite busy with other projects and have failed you. We have two Hall of Fame ballots to discuss for baseball and I haven’t talked about either one! Shall we? Yes, I believe we shall!

Author’s note: They went and elected people to the HOF while this article was in draft mode, the jerks. Therefore, I will keep my original Veterans’ Committee piece, but will say who won at the end (so you don’t try to cheat).

First, the Veterans’ Committee will consider the “Today’s Game” Ballot, which includes players from 1988 to the Present. Like the normal HOF, you need 75% of the vote, which means 12 ballots. There are ten candidates:

Harold Baines: Baines was a very good player for a very long time, but if you’re a guy (or gal) obsessed with peak, he’s not your pick. He’s well regarded, which is a point in his favor, but he barely cracked the 5% mark. He’s a better version of Tony Perez without Joe Morgan in his corner. Compared to other OFs, he’s terrible, and he’s not a good enough DH to make it ahead of Edgar Martinez. Baines, offensively, just wasn’t a huge force. 121 OPS+ just isn’t hugely impressive. Pass.

Albert Belle: Belle is the opposite of Baines in many ways. Belle was awesome at his peak, especially 1995. He was also an asshole and made few friends. Belle’s peak is noteworthy. By rate statistics, Belle is an amazing offensive hitter. He only had two seasons of under 100+, and in one of those, he had all of 25 PAs. That said, his career was extremely short. If he’d played five more years, he could have approached 600 home runs, and this would be a much more interesting conversation. The combination of his personality and short career will doom him. Pass.

Will Clark: I kind of like the idea of Clark in the Hall of Fame. He was actually surprisingly good (I genuinely didn’t remember much about him before going to B-Ref). He’s not outstanding, but he’s a better candidate, arguably, than Baines or Belle. He was even pretty decent defensively, winning a Gold Glove. He’s even better than the average 1B in the HOF (although Perez is one of them, so…) That said, he’s not remarkable enough to really make the Hall. He lacked overwhelming power, and that’s almost sine qua non for a Hall of Fame 1B. He had one season of more than 30+ HRs, a career slugging percentage of < .500, and an OPS+ of only 137. Pass.

Orel Hershiser: Hershiser was solid. He peaked young–1987-1989–but was a perfectly serviceable innings eater for much of the rest of his career. He’s well regarded and pitched on a memorable team in 1988. That said, it’s hard to get excited about a pitcher with an ERA barely over league average and some frankly terrible FIP numbers in the 1990s. Pass.

Davey Johnson: Johnson, as a player, is not in the conversation. As a manager, he had an amazing career with the Mets, but settled into being quite good overall. In 17 seasons, he had 14 seasons over .500. He got into the playoffs seven times, but never quite reached the heights of 1986. His playoff record is a significant negative, however. Pass.

Mark McGwire: Big Mac was really, really good at hitting homers. Everything–good and bad–feeds off of that. He’s done a decent job of rehabilitating his name, especially his bizarre interview with Bob Costas. His offensive capabilities are undeniable, and in a neutral world, he’s a definite Hall of Famer. The question is the slippery slope argument: if McGwire gets in, you’ll have to let in other confirmed cheaters who were better players (see Clemens and Bonds). I would let him in, but I’m not sure the Hall will. Hit… but likely a pass from the actual committee.

Lou Pinella: A long career of barely above averaging managing. He was on some bad teams, some mediocre teams, and a single World Series title. He’s a better case than Davey Johnson, but only because of his lengthier career. Pass.

John Schuerholz: As a GM, he’s one of the best all time. Hit.

Bud Selig: I can’t imagine him not getting in. He essentially ended labor disputes, presided over significant expansions in the number of teams and playoffs spots, and saw baseball’s popularity explode. Hit.

George Steinbrenner: As an owner, it’s hard to think of a more successful individual. He took the Yankees when they were a joke and made them into a juggernaut again. Hit.

My ballot: McGwire, Steinbrenner, Selig, Schuerholz.

So who actually won? Click below!

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Browns down to 53

Cleveland cut their roster to 53 players in preparation for the season opener. Since I’ve watched all four preseason games, here are some thoughts about the final roster, including some of the more surprising (or not surprising) cuts.

Quarterback: RGIII has looked pretty decent this preseason, and I think he’ll be a good starter for Cleveland. McCown as the backup makes sense. Kessler has been somewhat questionable, looking lost at the big stage, but he was a bit of a project anyway. I think he’ll turn out to be serviceable.

Running Back: Carrying four on the roster seems excessive. Crowell will probably get most carriers, followed by Duke Johnson. Watson is there to be a goal-line back. I’m not sure what role Mostert will play.

Fullback: We have a fullback named Malcolm Johnson. Now you know as much I do.

Wide Receiver: Terrell Pryor has natural chemistry with RGIII; I’m impressed with him more than anyone else on the offense so far. Coleman was hurt for part of the preseason, but I’m hoping he’ll be fine. Andrew Hawkins made it, but he’s so similar to Coleman that I think he’s mostly around for “veteran presence” than out of a skill set. All three other rookies made the team, which I did not expect. Cutting Taylor Gabriel strikes some as surprising, but it’s not that a big shock because he and Hawkins were so similar. We were bound to keep one or the other, not both. Marlon Moore was a good special teamer but had little else to offer. Darius Jennings was Marlon Moore with 5% more upside.

Tight End: Barnidge had communication issues with RGIII early on in the preseason, but those seem settled. Randall Telfer is a blocking tight end. Seth DeValve has Antonio Gates-levels of potential, but he didn’t show much in the preseason.

Offensive Line: Austin Pasztor won the right tackle job, which was not surprising, but I hoped for more from Spencer Drago. Drago did make the team, but he’ll be a backup, as will Shon Coleman and Alvin Bailey. Erving looked acceptable at center; we’ll miss Alex Mack, but I think Erving has made some impressive strides and could be a good one. Del Greco will start at RG, Joe Thomas at LT, and Joel Bitonio at LG. No surprises there.

Defensive Line:  Danny Shelton was one of the most invisible players during the preseason. I’m a little concerned that he didn’t make more of an impact, but there were no serious contenders for his job. Carl Nassib, on the other hand, was brilliant and will be a wonderful addition to the team. John Hughes III is okay, I guess. Jamie Meder has a lot of speed and showed some solid work. Xavier Cooper also has upside. We signed a guy named Stephen Paea and I have no idea what he does, but maybe he’s okay?

Inside Linebacker: Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey will start, and that works for me. They’re the best possible pair. Tank Carder is a great special team player, but he’s not too inspiring otherwise. I don’t remember hearing the name Dominique Alexander at all. Scooby Wright has a lot of sleeper potential; I like the cut of his jib, although he’ll mostly be a backup to start.

Outside Linebacker: Emmanuel Ogbah was a beast as a pass rusher (along with Nassib). Nate Orchard is going to get some more reps as an everyday player, which I think is wise; he’s not just a pure rusher, although he’s good at that. I’m not sure who the other two guys are.

Safeties: We’re carrying five safeties, which is just bizarre to me. Ibraheim Campbell and Jordan Poyer are heavy hitters who are underwhelming in coverage. Derrick Kindred had some good hits as well, and he’s a little more of a ballhawk. I’m interested to see if he gets regular playing time. Rahim Moore is there for veteran leadership and not much else. He’s the Andrew Hawkins of the secondary. Don Jones is not the love child of Tom Jones and Don Johnson. Beyond that, I don’t know what he brings to the table. Pierre Desir was a meh corner without much speed, which made him a decent candidate for safety, but he’s not very good at that either. Maybe he needs a better team, since he got cut.

Cornerback: Oooooof. This is not a great unit. If he’s healthy, Joe Haden is top notch, but the rest of the lineup is underwhelming. Tramon Williams plays well if he cares. Jamar Taylor is a reclamation project who got torched a couple of times. Trey Caldwell is a rookie. Tracy Howard is a football player, supposedly. Charles Gaines got cut because he sucks (really, really badly). Trading Justin Gilbert to Pittsburgh I don’t entirely approve of. Gilbert wasn’t outstanding by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked him more than Williams, and a 6th rounder wasn’t great value for a former first rounder. Then again, Dawgs By Nature suspects he was going to get cut, so a sixth rounder is better than nothing. If any team can salvage Gilbert, it’s the Steelers.

Special Teams: The new kicker is Patrick Murray. I liked Travis Coons from last year, but while he was decently accurate, his leg wasn’t the best. Murray’s got a lot more power. Andy Lee was already traded for being a shitty tackler (I don’t love the deal, but we did get better pick than we did for Gilbert), so our new punter is Britton Colquitt. Colquitt is good, if not outstanding.

All in all, I’m not surprised with how the roster ended up. One  of the rookie wideouts will get cut when Josh Gordon comes back from his suspension, so they’ll be fighting hard to impress. I think there’s some potential here.

Where’s the Penguatroll?

You may be asking yourself, “Where’s that handsome gentleman who provided great content and has not at all been slacking with the content, not even a little?” I’ve undergone a rebranding in connection with my campaign to, one day, become a YouTube sensation with ALL THE VIEWERS AND SUBSCRIBERS. If you want to help me reach that goal, you can pledge some of your hard earned cash to do just that. What a bargain!*

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Game design and Uplink [A partial review you can use [TM] ]

In the Steam Summer sale, I picked up an upgrade for Prison Architect that also got me the entire back catalog of Introversion. One of those games was Uplink. Uplink is a hacking game; it’s somewhat similar to Hacknet, which is much newer and text based (and in my opinion, the better game), but there’s an odd design flaw in it. At least, I consider it a flaw.

One of the story missions has you hack into somebody’s LAN. Every time you access the main file server, the system admin will sign on and kick you off. The problem is that there’s no way to avoid this, because you need files off the server. What frustrates me is that it’s repetitive and dull; if you know what you’re doing, it isn’t the least bit dangerous, just dull.

I mention Uplink for another, better reason: unobtrusive tutorials. Now, back in the days of yore, I was an aficionado of the printed manual. The SimAnt manual remained in my possession far longer than the game did. Today, that’s replaced by a tutorial. Now, sometimes tutorials can be terrific: for example, the intro to Skyrim is really well done. The idea of being thrust into Big Things Happening feels very dynamic and fresh. Prison Architect’s campaign mode is a fun little tutorial that gives you the basics without holding your hand too much. The same thing is true for Uplink (and Hacknet). There’s plenty to discover, even if you’re not quite sure how things work.

Since this is a review, I should probably tell you whether or not to get Uplink instead of just musing about it. Uplink is a little dated but a quality title. If you’re clever, you can make the game ridiculously easy, but until then you will have plenty of entertaining failures. The story is surprisingly dull, to be honest. In fact, you can miss the story entirely without trying too hard. That doesn’t make it a bad game by any means, and it has enjoyable moments, but the replay value is somewhat minimal.

So long, Barkevious

I am an acknowledged fan of Barkevious Mingo, both in Madden and in real life. However, apart from his ridiculously awesome name, he produced surprisingly little on the field. He is now a New England Patriot for the price of a fifth round pick. The Patriots think he can contribute on special teams and/or act as depth. I myself suggested Mingo was a pure pass rusher and not likely to provide much else of value; it turns out he couldn’t even do that very well.

That was a pretty lousy draft for Cleveland, which is fair given the number of picks we had, but at least Armonty Bryant turned out to have some talent. He’s suspended for four games, but he’s far and away the best player from the class, so… yay?

Penguatroll on the move

We’ll be moving at the end of this week. It’ll be a little bittersweet to leave Kansas, but it’s just time to move on and find something a little better for us. Probably no posts from me for a while, so hopefully you find Kevin’s posts on computinating brilliantly entertaining!