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Yelling, Jeff Fisher, and Michael Lewis: While We’re Waiting…

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Hey Cleveland, how you doing? Is there a lot of holiday spirit in here, or is that just the eggnog talking?

I’m only at “ho ho” on the “ho ho ho” scale, but I’m yet to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the 1966 cartoon version with Boris Karloff, of course), Home Alone and Home Alone 2 (nothing gives me holiday cheer like mocking the incapacity of the McCallister parents), and The Muppet Christmas Carol (because no one imparts life lessons better than talking sock puppets), but I did catch Alec Baldwin parodying his “coffee is for closers” rant from Glengarry Glen Ross on the SNL Christmas special.

I’ll get jollier soon enough before seasonal depression sets in, the passing holidays and year end reminding me of the inexorable march of time, squandered youth, and imminent death. But while we’re waiting…

Is it just my imagine, or have people been touchier this week than usual? Social media certainly amplifies the noise, but our other supposedly more dignified mediums for discourse haven’t been much better. In particular, the Cav-less Cavaliers injustice and (gulp) the parade … thing seem to have inspired an unusual amount of hot air and shadow-barking.

Not to delve too deeply into either of them (I also thought Scott and Andrew already touched on the parade with the proper amount of perspective), but good NBA teams resting players is going to continue indefinitely because it’s simply prudent rationing of valuable player exertion (and anyone with a brain in 2016 can see that), and if the Browns (and fans) are upset by a sardonic act of fan defiance, maybe try winning a game … one damn game. Just an idea. But I guess I’m just increasingly a Brick Tamland in a room full of Ron Burgundys.

The Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher, and although Bode touched on it yesterday, I couldn’t resist bringing it up because it’s too funny. The main reason I found Jeff Fisher’s demise hilarious was because of what I wrote in my preseason prediction for the Browns.

Let’s not forget that the New York Jets won 10 games last season, and the Detroit Lions won seven, as did the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams. In fact, Jeff Fisher has made an entire career of being mediocre. Fisher has a career record of 169-156, has the closest career record to .500 of any coach in the top-25 of career wins other than Weeb Ewbank, and has won eight or fewer games his last six seasons as a head coach.

To be honest with you, I think we can do better than Jeff Fisher. If you believe Hue Jackson is the guy to lead the Browns long-term — and if you believe anything as a Browns fan, then you do — then you must think he’s a smarter and better coach than Jeff Fisher. Hue did win EIGHT games with the Oakland Raiders when they were at peak dysfunction.

In the NFL, if a team can linger in games, avoid shooting itself in the foot, and not be a collection of total dumbasses, then it can win 7-to-9 games. So why can’t the Browns win 6-to-8 games? “Because their defense is made of Fontina cheese?” you say? Well, to that I reply, THE BROWNS CAN DO BETTER THAN JEFF FISHER!!! THE BROWNS MIGHT NOT BE COACHED BY A TOTAL DUMBASS!!! WE CAN DO THIS!!!

Anyway, I have them down for 3-13. Go Browns.

I just want to savor the layers of irony in that block quote forever. Let us review: 1. I set the bar so so sooooo low. I was hoping for mediocrity, willing to accept it, and made a spirited for argument that the Browns could be mediocre; 2. I even further lowered my expectations, forsaking hope that the Browns could even achieve dumbass-levels of success; 3. The Browns underperformed those even lower expectations; 4. Jeff Fisher underperformed, and lost his job after years as the longest-tenured bad coach (at least since 2000) in NFL history; 5. Jeff Fisher still won seven more games than the Browns in the past year. It’s simply astounding.

If you read any books or any nonfiction at all, then everything Michael Lewis writes is a must-readLiar’s Poker captured the mania of the 1980s, The Big Short and Flash Boys told the story of how the ghosts of that preceding era torpedoed the economy in the late 2000s, and Moneyball launched a revolution in sports and every other industry to use data to drive decisions and find market inefficiencies. In many ways, Lewis’s new book The Undoing Project is the unofficial sequel (or prequel?) to Moneyball, as Lewis examines the peculiarities of the human mind (and two psychologists who examined it) that make markets like professional baseball rife with inefficiencies and ripe for tinkering in the first place.

The Undoing Project is of interest to Cleveland sports fans not only for the obvious reasons (it’s written by Michael Lewis), but because it can provide insights into the thought process of Cleveland’s professional sports teams, who have now all embraced Moneyball-style thinking with the Browns’ installation of the HBT. For instance, Lewis talked to nerd-king general manager of the Houston Rockets Daryl Morey, who set out to find patterns for successful NBA draft picks, only to find, “Almost everything we looked at was nonpredictive.” This may pose special challenges for the Browns who are trying to do the same thing in a sport where data is notoriously shoddier and more ambiguous.

Jacob discussed data’s role as a tool in the decision-making toolbox in his “While We’re Waiting…” last week, and Lewis’ new book isn’t a condemnation or a retreat from making data-driven decisions, but rather a look at why humans sucked at making decisions in the first place. Or, put another way, before Morey and the Indians’ front office brought a better process to management, “Why had so much conventional wisdom been bullshit?” A few chapters in, I’m not totally sure where Lewis is going yet, but he’s already taken me deep into the workings of an NBA front office, and through a young psychologist’s formative experiences as a refugee in World War II and post-war Israel. I’m excited to see where it goes next.1

Your Calvin and Hobbes strip of the day. Every time Cleveland fans get to watch LeBron James suit up for the Cavaliers after those four years they were … less than understanding while he was in Miami.

calvin-xmas-acquittal

And now for the random 90s song of the day. The R90sSotD is Ace of Base’s “Cruel Summer.” How can “Cruel Summer” be the R90sSotD in the dead of winter you ask? Maybe the R90sSotD was looking for the Kanye West-led compilation album with fire tracks like “To the World” and “Clique,” only to find it was from 2012 and thus disqualified from the R90sSotD. Maybe the 90sSotD thought you all could use the catchy Europop tune with the Latin flavor celebrating our hottest season to stay warm in the December cold. Maybe the R90sSotD was on clearance because “Cruel Summer” was out of season.” Or maybe the R90sSotD is just emotionally confused. Listen at your own risk: It will be stuck in your head all day.

It’s a cruel (it’s a cruel) cruel summer
Now you’re gone you’re not the only one
It’s a cruel
(Cruel summer. It’s a cruel (cruel)
Cruel summer
(Cruel summer. It’s a cruel (it’s a cruel)
Cruel Summer
(It’s a cruel summer)

  1. If you’d like a preview, the first chapter of The Undoing Project, which primarily focuses on Daryl Morey and the Rockets, appears to be available in its entirety on Slate. []

  • Hopwin

    This should be the official holiday movie thread!

    So far I’ve watched:
    A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Christmas Vacation
    Holiday Inn

    Still to go:
    Die Hard
    White Christmas
    Scrooged
    and possibly the Harry Potter movies, which always feel Christmas-ey to me for some reason.

  • mgbode

    I think the same person who wrote Cruel Summer wrote the songs for Bubble Guppies.

  • tigersbrowns2

    didn’t Bananarama do that song first ??

  • mgbode

    Harry Potter movies tend to be Thanksgiving weekend flicks in our household, but we missed doing them this year. So, maybe we’ll take it from you and watch over the Christmas holiday season instead.

    We haven’t begun (or, I haven’t — their grandma is all about Hallmark Christmas movies, so the kids have seen quite a few already I’m sure) to watch.

    Add in these to your list (and Kyles):

    Elf
    Santa Clause
    “new” Grinch
    Jingle all the Way
    Kranks
    Trading Places (the Christmas Ham under the Santa beard scene alone is worth it!)
    Mickey’s Christmas Carol
    and, yes, Ernest Saves Christmas

  • tigersbrowns2

    good picks … mine would also include “a christmas story” & “the grinch” with Jim Carrey.

  • tigersbrowns2

    that’s funny … i have over 1,000 movies in my collection & have every one of these.

  • JNeids
  • tigersbrowns2

    “Four Christmases” is pretty funny as well.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • RGB

    Godfather I & II.

  • mgbode
  • jpftribe

    Like for really bad 80’s bands. They were right up there with Flock of Seagulls.

  • RGB

    Mid-80s.

  • RGB

    The 80s ruled.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • JNeids
  • tigersbrowns2

    hi RGB … well , i’m 54 years-old … soooo , i’m stuck in the 70’s. to me , the 70’s had the best music ever .

  • tigersbrowns2

    lmao !! … anyone remember this flashback episode of “Friends” ? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1edd6f773c4302db5383108feb7fd09c6441fdab010c94095f0d2f349e17b50d.jpg

  • JNeids

    Sure do!

  • Considering the “good fortunes” that the Duke brothers got in Coming to America, someone should make Trading Places 2 someday.

  • Hopwin

    I forgot, I saw Elf for the first time this year. I am a Will Farrell hater, but this will have to be added to the seasonal list 🙂

  • JM85

    Always watch Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story. I had a VHS tape of Grinch, Mickey, and other movies but can’t find it now.

  • BKJD

    I enjoyed them at the time, but it came out last year that Ace of Base may have been a Neo-Nazi band.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Not the entire group, a singular member (Ulf Ekberg) who had indeed been a Neo-Nazi skinhead apart of the Nazi band Commit Suiside prior to his time in Ace of Base.

  • nj0

    I’ve never understood how certain coaches get certain reputations. To wit: when you’re talking to your football friends this off-season about possible head coaching hires, mention Wade Phillips. Listen to them laugh. Hear them explain how he’s not “head coaching material”, whatever that is. Yet here are some facts about old Wade:

    * He went 82-64 as a head coach
    * That’s a .562 winning percentage
    * Remove his bouts as an interim, he’s 79-57(.581)
    * That .581 puts him ahead of Hank Stram, Bill Parcels, Mike Ditka, Chuck Noll, and Jimmy Johnson to name a few
    * In nine seasons as head coach, he finished below .500 twice
    * Outside of his disastrous last year in Dallas, his worst year was 7-9
    * He went 29-19 in three years with the Bills and made the playoffs twice with Doug Flutie(!!!) and Rob Johnson(!!!) as his quarterbacks

    Now, I’m not saying any team should go out and hire Phillips. And I know that there’s a lot more to the story than those numbers tell. He coached talented teams. He didn’t win in the playoffs. He made some controversial decisions in his last year with the Bills. And I’m sure age is a factor at this point. But…. it’s crazy to me how one day Wade was just officially deemed “not a head coach” by the establishment and fans. Then that was all she wrote. His legacy is “great coordinator, bad head coach”, even though he was a good, arguably great, head coach.

    Wade, if you’re out there reading this, know that I’ll interview you for head coach if I ever own a team. Benching Flutie was the right move and standing by Ronnie Jones was a sign of integrity. I can’t imagine it was easy coaching in Dallas with your hand-chosen successor breathing down your neck. Congrats on getting that ring. And go Cougs!

  • nj0

    Get Trump on the horn. I think I found him his chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • nj0

    A Muppet Family Christmas. Mind you, I’m not saying A Muppet Christmas Carol or the Very Muppet Christmas Movie or any other junk that might have come out after Jim passed away. A Muppet Family Christmas. It’s on YouTube. Watch it. It’s the best.

  • humboldt

    Sigh. I think the NEA is in the process of being transformed into a casino.

    It’s deeply depressing that departments like this become political casualties. We’ve gotten several NEA grants at our hospital to improve the aesthetics of inpatient rooms on the cancer unit and provide art therapies for the childrens’ hospital and elsewhere. But none of that matters when the department is treated in the abstract as some namby-pamby left-wing frivolity.

  • chrisdottcomm

    I can’t uptick this sadly because the ACTUAL invigoration felt by the Neo-Nazi groups due to the election of someone who pandered perfectly to their sense of tribal nationalism.

    The normalization of these groups through the hipster tags and puff pieces being given to them by legitimate news organizations such as the AP, LA Times, NY Times and not the Breitbart/InfoWars muck houses make me weep for the country.

    We were in great discussion yesterday of the “worst candidates in history” where i expressed the false equivalencies of evil represented in the two; here is the primest of examples.

    The fact that you can make that joke with the PEOTUS is an absolute disgrace. (not to you my good sir, the office itself)

  • chrisdottcomm

    I’m truly sorry to hear that news for your and other hospitals. Unfortunately not only will the Arts take a huge hit but the Department of Education, Energy, Housing are all in prospective shambles.

  • mgbode

    if they are currently in shambles, then we should blame the current administration. if they are not currently in shambles, then I believe you are jumping the gun.

  • chrisdottcomm

    I stated “prospective” shambles, as in the future based on the unqualified chosen cabinet members to lead each of those departments by the PEOTUS.

    If I believed in any sort of deity that cared what the most microscopic of inhabitants of it’s creation thought; I’d begin to pray none are confirmed.

  • nj0

    This is something that should have been a constant talking point of Hillary and her campaign. Connect people’s every day lives to how Trump as president would make them worse. He said X which means Y and will cause Z in your life.

    “Are you going to buy your first home in the next four years? The best loan you can get would be through HUD, a department Trump will abolish. Enjoy paying $10,000’s more. Are you a teacher? Is your spouse? Your daughter? Trump will defund the DOE which provides 10% of your funding. That’s coming out of your salary. You or anyone you know in higher education? Take a look at how many international students are at your school and think about how zero tolerance immigration will affect your enrollment. Have fun making those budget cuts. You work in a hospital? You one of the 80% of Americans who think abortion should be legal in some circumstances? Anyone you know work for the federal government? Has NAFTA helped your company?”

    BAH! Clinton completely botched it. All this supposed smart people and they played right into Trump’s hands, focusing on all the dumb things he said rather than how he’d make things worse for people. BAH!, I say. Democrats should have nominated Wade Phillips.

  • nj0

    Confirmed deities are the best deities.

  • Steve

    All the upvotes.

  • No one’s mentioned Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas??

    https://youtu.be/Q6trGocstHI

    Also, yes, Love Actually. Liam Neeson does fine work that doesn’t involve killing people, Alan Rickman saying words, Martine McCutcheon being charming and gorgeous…gotta be in the mix for me. And let’s not forget The Ref, with Denis Leary doing what he does and Kevin Spacey offering his mother a big wooden cross for Christmas.

  • mgbode

    the public education system is broken – who doesn’t hate it? including teachers and everybody working there. now, the important part is how do we fix it? the current movement towards pushing funding based on attendance & test scores is ludicrous.

    eh, you are stating a “talking point”. if there is inefficiency there, then let’s find it and eliminate it. I’m no Perry fan, I think he’s a slimy weasel (the worst kind of weasel other than wolverine). he is definitely one that I will watch more closely but it’s not like he is someone devoid of experience dealing with energy.

    wait, so physicist negotiating nuclear treaties w/ Iran is a good thing because a smart guy was put in charge of something (DOE under Obama) but hiring a smart guy for Housing is a bad thing. sorry, too much politics rather than again substance.

  • mgbode

    agree that is where things should have been hit even if there are counters to many of what you stated. and, what Clinton did say in the debates there were middle school debate responses that would have shredded her. it was a fool’s election and one of the two fools had to win.

  • humboldt

    #Gpodawund

  • chrisdottcomm

    “That can which be asserted without evidence can be as easily dismissed”

    …we’ve now broke every “bar” and WFNY Thread Comment rule out there.

  • chrisdottcomm

    Bum Phillips even.

  • humboldt
  • chrisdottcomm

    “wait, so physicist negotiating nuclear treaties w/ Iran is a good thing
    because a smart guy was put in charge of something (DOE under Obama) but
    hiring a smart guy for Housing is a bad thing.”

    This pivot is so hard it just took Kawhi off the dribble and to the basket. (thought we needed to interject some sports talk here)

    The notion that I approve everything Obama did because I oppose everything Trump stands for is exactly where everyone gets lost in these discussions.

  • nj0

    Politics and religion are what happen when you’re team is 0-13.

  • mgbode

    fair. and I definitely am leery of many things that were said and some of these appts.

    I need to generate a list of people sometime closer to Jan20 with some good notes so we can go a few layers deeper.

  • nj0

    Wendy Sherman, who has a long history of government service, was the lead negotiator for most of the Iran deal. Once it got close, John Kerry took over that role. Ernest Moniz, the physicist you’re referring to, played a crucial role in hashing out the final technical details.

    I get that we’re approaching condition red with these discussions and I understand the point you’re making, but I really don’t think the role Moniz played in the Iran deal is comparable to the appointment of Carson.

    Honestly, I agree with both of you to an extent. The (over)reactions to some (every?) appointment isn’t doing anybody any favors. But with some, I think there’s clear non-bipartisan grounds to gripe. (Carson to HUD is hard to defend, imo. Wasn’t there a conservative minded chap with experience in housing? Some ex-Fannie Mae CEO or something?)

  • mgbode

    Actually, that is the point. No matter who gets appointed isn’t going it alone as the Sherman-Kerry-Moniz example shows.

    And, as I noted, I admittedly need to do some better digging to really decide for myself which of these I like and dislike. The hyperbole just needs to be cut through first, which is annoying.

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