Did The Cubs Miss Their Chance To Be A Dynasty?

In addition to being one of the great sports stories of the 21st century — breaking a 108-year championship drought in extra innings of World Series Game 7 — the 2016 Chicago Cubs were legitimately one of the best baseball teams of all time. With a championship core of young talent that included Kris Bryant (age 24),1 Anthony Rizzo (26), Kyle Hendricks (26), Addison Russell (22), Javier Baez (23), Kyle Schwarber (23), Willson Contreras (24) and Jason Heyward (26), Chicago seemed poised to follow up that magical run by becoming a dynasty in the coming seasons.

That’s not quite how things have played out. The 2017 Cubs stumbled out of the gate and never quite clicked, eventually losing to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The 2018 version squandered the five-game division lead they held over the Brewers on Sept. 1, lost the division tiebreaker in Game 163 of the regular season and then promptly lost the wild-card game against Colorado. And the Cubs’ grip on the Central figures to loosen even further this season. According to a preliminary version of our 2019 MLB Projections, we give Chicago only the third-best projected record (84 wins) in the division, with a mere 24 percent chance of winning it.

The NL Central has caught up with the Cubs

How our preliminary Elo ratings are forecasting the 2019 NL Central race

Avg. Simulated Season Chance to…
Team Elo Rating Wins Losses Run Diff. Make Playoffs Win Division Win World Series
Cardinals 1528 86 76 +42 45% 28% 4%
Brewers 1525 85 77 +33 41 25 4
Cubs 1523 84 78 +31 40 24 4
Pirates 1502 79 83 -15 25 13 1
Reds 1497 77 85 -32 20 10 1

Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB season.

Sources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Caesar’s Palace

How is it possible that the Cubs went from dynasty in the making in 2016 to a team struggling to stay atop its own division in less than three years? The answer lies in part with the team’s declining core and team president Theo Epstein’s inability to supplement it with effective reinforcements from the outside — particularly when it comes to pitching.

Few teams have ever undergone an overhaul as extreme as the Cubs did in the four years leading up to their championship season. Chicago improved from 16.6 wins above replacement2 during their dreadful 61-win 2012 to 56.8 WAR in 2016, with essentially all of those gains coming via newly acquired talent (rather than improvements from existing holdovers). As part of that process, Epstein made a number of shrewd trades, drafted several key contributors and increased Chicago’s payroll by 169 percent relative to the MLB average.

It all came together as a textbook example of tearing down and rebuilding a franchise. The 2016 Cubs had baseball’s third-most-valuable pitchers by WAR (including the No. 1 starting rotation) and the best defense by a country mile, on top of an offense that tied for the NL lead in adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage. The pitching side was expensive and creaky — one of the oldest ever to win a World Series, in fact — but Epstein and the Cubs seemed to be winning the battle of ideas about where to invest in order to build a ballclub with perennial championship aspirations.

Since 2016, though, the formula has broken down. The team’s net WAR on arrivals and departures — in which Chicago topped baseball from 2012 to 2016 — has dropped to eighth-worst in MLB. The Cubs haven’t added very many new faces, and what few acquisitions the team has made have largely flopped, particularly on the mound. Starters Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish all badly underperformed their established performance levels as members of the Cubs, for instance. As a result, Chicago has mainly had to rely on its existing core to keep the team in contention.

This makes some sense, to a certain extent. The natural maturation process of a championship team is to add talent in the lead-up to contention, then shift toward maintaining it once the roster finally reaches the top of the heap. But that hasn’t really happened, either. Not only have the new players underperformed, the team’s nexus of homegrown talent has, too. The Cubs’ holdovers are a net -14.8 WAR since 2016, which ranks fourth-worst in MLB. The multiyear plan to build a great core and then set it loose doesn’t work when that core regresses.

The rise and stall of the Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ net wins above replacement (WAR) added/subtracted by season from incoming/outgoing and existing players, 2013-18

Net WAR from…
Season Previous WAR + Arrivals Departures + Holdovers = Season WAR
2013 16.6 + 10.1 + 2.2 2.9 = 26.1
2014 26.1 + 7.8 6.1 + 2.2 = 30.0
2015 30.0 + 19.8 3.4 2.0 = 44.5
2016 44.5 + 10.8 + 0.5 + 1 = 56.8
2017 56.8 + 8.3 9.5 13.1 = 42.5
2018 42.5 + 7.5 6.2 1.8 = 42.1

Positive net WAR for departures means departing players cumulatively had negative WAR the previous year.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs

The 2018 Cubs shared some of the strengths of the 2016 club — both had top-5 defenses by WAR — but Chicago slipped to 14th in WAR from its starting rotation and was basically average offensively according to adjusted OPS. An injury to Bryant cost him 60 games, while Rizzo’s performance declined for reasons mostly unknown.

Bryzzo wasn’t alone in its combined downturn. Sixteen players appeared on the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Cubs. Some of them — such as Contreras, Baez and Schwarber — have flourished in expanded roles since 2016. But in more cases than not, this core group has produced less despite being asked to carry more of the load over time:3

The Cubs are relying on the same core … and getting less

For players who were on the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Chicago Cubs, share of team playing time logged* and wins above replacement (WAR) by season

Playing time WAR
Player Pos 2016 2017 2018 2016 2017 2018
Anthony Rizzo 1B 6.6% 6.8% 6.4% 5.2 4.2 2.8
Kris Bryant 3B 6.8 6.5 4.4 7.6 6.4 2.1
Ben Zobrist 2B 6.2 4.8 5.0 3.8 0.4 3.4
Jon Lester P 5.7 5.1 4.9 4.9 2.0 2.4
Javier Baez IF 4.4 5.0 6.2 2.7 2.6 5.7
Jason Heyward RF 5.8 4.7 4.7 1.1 1.6 1.8
Kyle Hendricks P 5.3 4.0 5.4 4.8 2.8 3.0
Addison Russell SS 5.8 3.8 4.5 3.7 1.9 1.7
Willson Contreras C 2.8 4.2 5.2 1.9 3.6 2.7
Kyle Schwarber LF 0.0 4.8 4.9 -0.1 0.8 2.3
Albert Almora CF 1.1 3.2 4.6 0.6 1.1 1.4
Mike Montgomery P 1.0 3.8 3.1 0.2 1.9 1.2
Pedro Strop P 1.5 2.1 2.2 0.8 1.0 1.4
Carl Edwards Jr. P 1.1 2.4 1.8 0.4 1.2 1.2
Tommy La Stella IF 1.7 1.5 1.8 0.6 0.5 0.1
Rob Zastryzny P 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.5 -0.2 0.0
Total 56.3 63.0 65.3 38.7 31.8 33.2

* Through plate appearances or (leverage-adjusted) innings pitched.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs

It also bears mentioning that Epstein and the Cubs have been hamstrung in how much outside talent they can add by a massive payroll bill, which has affected the team’s depth all across the diamond. In terms of marginal payroll per WAR, Chicago went from being the second-most cost-effective playoff team of 2016 to the least cost-effective playoff team of 2018.

Trade pickup Cole Hamels was one of the few pitchers who didn’t underwhelm in Chicago (he was very good upon joining the Cubs at last year’s deadline). And in the field, rookie David Bote was a pleasant surprise last season. Both will be back for 2019, along with practically all the rest of the aforementioned core.4 The Cubs were briefly rumored to be in on the Bryce Harper derby, but for now Chicago’s biggest offseason acquisition is utilityman Daniel Descalso. And the lack of upgrades is part of the problem heading into 2019.

Although FanGraphs projects the Cubs to have a top-5 lineup, the site sees the pitching staff dropping outside MLB’s top 10 — and with an 88-win prediction for the Cubs, FanGraphs is one of the forecasters most bullish on Chicago’s chances. If the Brewers caught the Cubs on talent last season, the Cardinals might have passed them both by now. Meanwhile, manager Joe Maddon is in the final year of his contract, with no extension in place going forward. From team leadership to the core of the roster, many of the factors that played a key role in Chicago’s rise now look shockingly uncertain three years later.

The good news for Chicago, though, is that the potential still exists for an exciting summer at Wrigley Field. Even if 2016 was an outlier, a team as talented as the 2017 and 2018 Cubs — which was, after all, good enough for an average of 93.5 wins per season — remains a contender. It might not be the kind of dynasty that either Epstein or fans on the North Side had in mind when they were celebrating their curse-breaking World Series victory. But hey, at least it’s far better than all the bad Cub teams of the 1980s and ’90s that many of us grew up watching on WGN.

Jay Boice contributed research.

What Went Down In Trump’s 2019 State Of The Union

What Went Down In Trump’s 2019 State Of The Union | FiveThirtyEight

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UltimateSEO.online Purchase SEO Packages Now Live

Ultimate SEO has begun to develop its UltimateSEO.online site as a store front where visitors can purchase SEO products and services.  At this time we have several SEO Audit packages listed.  More details will be added to the products but they are the same as currently described on SEO Services

Additionally we will role out subscription packages for ranking reports and data trending as well as content development and backlinking campaigns.

seo tool

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Bad Backlinks: 100 Sites You Don’t Want A Backlink From.

Bad Backlinks

UltimateSEO.org has backlinks from about a thousand domains.  In a recent review of these I found an odd reoccurring link from multiple domains but all with the same content and titles.  I was introduced with “The Globe” which charges sites to NOT list them or makes money from SEOs paying them to not backlink to them.  At $36 a link they’re likely insane and I bet its bringing in some money.  But before we go all crazy and start paying Ransomlinks (if its not a word I claim it … Ransomlinks are backlinks from bad sites meant to lower your SEO score unless you pay to not be linked too.)

In reviewing the situation I ran across a list of the most disavowed sites.  I figured Id share that with you below, but before I do what outcome did I choose for these bad links pointed to my site?

  1. Option 1 Pay: Heck No! Then the terrorists win.
  2. Disavow: No! Don’t use disavow unless Google has placed a manual action against your site.  I’m skeptical anyhow of the tools purpose and Google itself says there is no need to use the tool unless you’ve been penalized and told by them you are being penalized.
  3. Do Nothing: Yes! Don’t do anything. Google likely knows about the Ransomlinks scheme and has already penalized the site by deindexing it.  There are so many random domains its going to be a mess to address so let it be unless you have a seen a negative affect.  In other words…before you saw your leg off wondering if that spot is cancer…stop and find out.
  4. An idea: 301 Redirect Them…seriously…all of these links point to a subdomain that until now hasn’t existed.  Most others who are talking about this site note a similar subdomain targeted.   I could create the targeted subdomain and redirect all links to it from my site back to theirs.  🙂  

I’m opting for the third as I dont have any indication that Google cares about these Ransomlinks.  They may actually bring some random traffic of use so redirecting them would take that from my site.

What do would you do with “Ransomlinks”

And now the most disavowed sites…

Most popular websites disavowed by webmasters

1 blogspot.com
2 blogspot.ca
3 blogspot.co.uk
4 ning.com
5 wordpress.com
6 blog.pl
7 linkarena.com
8 yuku.com
9 blogspot.de
10 webs.com
11 blogspot.nl
12 blogspot.fr
13 lemondir.com
14 blog.com
15 alonv.com
16 tistory.com
17 searchatlarge.com
18 dvpdvp1.com
19 typepad.com
20 nju-jp.com
21 bluehost.com
22 wldirectory.com
23 tumblr.com
24 hyperboards.com
25 directoryfuse.com
26 prlog.ru
27 informe.com
28 ligginit.com
29 theglobe.org
30 pulsitemeter.com
31 articlerich.com
32 weebly.com
33 the-globe.com
34 blogspot.no
35 theglobe.net
36 articledashboard.com
37 dig.do
38 seodigger.com
39 cybo.com
40 fat64.net
41 bravenet.com
42 cxteaw.com
43 askives.com
44 mrwhatis.net
45 insanejournal.com
46 xurt.com
47 freedirectorysubmit.com
48 commandresults.com
49 sagauto.com
50 internetwebgallery.com
51 freewebsitedirectory.com
52 ewbnewyork.com
53 000webhost.com
54 tblog.com
55 directorylist.me
56 analogrhythm.com
57 snapcc.org
58 bravejournal.com
59 weblinkstoday.com
60 m-pacthouston.com
61 linkcruncher.com
62 tripod.com
63 cogizz.com
64 niresource.com
65 over-blog.com
66 ogdenscore.com
67 free-link-directory.info
68 alikewebsites.com
69 folkd.com
70 djsonuts.com
71 uia.biz
72 bangkokprep.com
73 forumsland.com
74 punbb-hosting.com
75 hostmonster.com
76 blogspot.in
77 siteslikesearch.com
78 bookmark4you.com
79 siliconvalleynotary.com
80 listablog.com
81 poetic-dictionary.com
82 linkspurt.com
83 cultuurtechnologie.net
84 azjournos.com
85 exteen.com
86 articletrader.com
87 blogspot.com.au
88 delphistaff.com
89 altervista.org
90 media-tourism.com
91 woodwardatelier.com
92 holdtiteadhesives.com
93 lorinbrownonline.com
94 tech4on.com
95 popyourmovie.com
96 trilogygroveland.com
97 foqe.net
98 directorybin.com
99 eatrightkc.com

The Super Bowl’s Best Matchup Is Gladys Knight vs. The Clock

Super Bowl LIII is not only about two of the league’s best offenses squaring off against one another — New England and Los Angeles — it’s also about America’s other favorite pastime: gambling. The total amount bet on the Super Bowl1 has risen from $40 million in 1991 to more than $158 million in 2018, and much of that growth has come from “props” or proposition bets.

For readers who aren’t degenerate gamblers, prop bets are wagers you can place on events during a game that don’t directly involve the final outcome. This year there are the standard prop bets, like if the Patriots will score a touchdown in the first quarter (they never have in a Super Bowl), or if the Rams will rush for more than 127.5 yards (they averaged 143.3 yards per game in the regular season and the playoffs). But there are also more exotic prop bets on things like whether Donald Trump will tweet more than six times during the game. (The implied probability on one offshore book is 58 percent that he will hit the over.)

Another interesting wager is on the length of Gladys Knight’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Several offshore books have set the total for the anthem at 1 minute 47 seconds, and the implied odds for both the under and the over were set at one book at -115 — a 53.5 percent implied probability — on both sides.2 The implied probabilities being equal indicates that the book has no real opinion on the length of Gladys’s performance — they just want to take a percentage from each side of the wager and hope bettors will place their bets evenly on both.

But is Knight performing the anthem in over/under 107 seconds really close to a 50 percent proposition? Or is there evidence that might convince us that the oddsmakers got the probabilities wrong?

To find out, I went to Youtube and watched 40 Super Bowl national anthems from 1979 to 2018. I eliminated any anthems with trumpeters (there were two) and then started timing the anthem from the moment the singer first started to sing and ended the timer after the completion of the first utterance of “brave.”3 Using this methodology, the 40-year average of all national anthem singers4 is 106.1 seconds, roughly in line with the total set by the books. So the total is correct so far as the average goes, but it also seems lazy. Surely there are other factors that might help us better predict how long Gladys might sing.

For starters, the performance time of the anthem has changed as the Super Bowl has grown to become the unparalleled cultural phenomenon we now enjoy each year. As the pomp, circumstance and viewership have increased, the time anthem performers spend on the stage has also risen.

So while anthems have gotten longer over time, the 40-year average is not fully accounting for that trend. When you do account for it5 the best forecast for the 2019 anthem is actually 119 seconds, 13 seconds over the 40-year average.

Gender of the anthem singer is also significant. Men tend to sing the anthem more quickly than women — though not many men have sung the anthem in recent years, when the anthems have been getting longer overall. Still, the all-time shortest anthem performance was by a man — the incomparable Neil Diamond — who got in and out like a boss in a cool 61 seconds. And the longest anthem ever performed at a Super Bowl was by the unforgettable Natalie Cole in 1994, which clocked in at a diva-esque 148 seconds.

Finally, Knight herself appears to be a singer who knows how to stretch a note. Using whosampled, I identified 31 covers performed by Knight and timed the cover performance of each using similar criteria to the anthem timing. Knight’s covers were 7 percent longer than the originals on average, good for a bonus 12.7 seconds of soothing soul per track. In perhaps the best comp to the national anthem — “Ave Maria,” a soaring, vocal-heavy standard covered by hundreds of artists — Gladys’ performance was 37 percent longer than the standard version.

Gladys Knight takes her time with interpretations

Difference in song length between Knight’s covers and the original songs

Sources: YouTube, Whosampled

Taking a larger view, only two anthems in the past 15 years have been performed faster than the 40-year average of 1 minute 47 seconds. And when I looked at the age of the anthem singers, I found no significant correlation between age and performance time.6 On the other hand, we can look at one of Knight’s previous performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” itself, which is solid piece of evidence against the over, running for 92 seconds. It was, however, performed 28 years ago. All things considered, the bookmakers appear to have this line wrong on Gladys, and her upcoming anthem performance is probably going to go over 107 seconds.

Researching a single prop was a lot of work, and it’s understandable why books might not want to put this level of effort into each and every bet they publish. But it does imply that there are profitable edges for some Super Bowl props. Using the Twitter machine, I threw up a bat signal for a gambling expert to help me confirm my priors. Rufus Peabody, a professional sports bettor and former ESPN contributor who is well-known in gambling circles for the scale and volume of his Super Bowl prop wagers, agreed to help.

“The time and effort to accurately value props is pretty high,” Peabody said. “Some books put more effort into their props than others, and for some props there’s almost no data. Books will move the lines aggressively when sharp bets are made though, which helps them adjust.”

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Gladys anthem line, and it hasn’t moved all week. I was tempted to bet the over, but when I was confronted with the prospect of having to convert real money into Bitcoin in order to place a bet on an offshore site, I decided to abort. When I looked around for somewhere to place the bet in Las Vegas — where they accept actual money — I struck out. Peabody explained that prop bets like anthem length are illegal in Las Vegas because of restrictions on the types of sources casinos can use to “grade” or determine the outcome of a bet.

Even if it won’t net me any cash, I’ll be pulling for Knight to go over regardless. I want her to belt out that last note in “home of the brave” for an egregiously long time. After all, my Twitter credibility is on the line, and that’s serious business.

What Have The Knicks Done?

New York Knicks executives in recent years have said they would rebuild cautiously and avoid trading their first-round picks. That approach paid off — sweet-shooting big man Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks’ first-round pick in 2015, quickly ascended into a star, giving the team hope that it could finally build something sustainable with just another solid move or two. All the organization needed to do was avoid somehow taking a step backward.

And then Thursday happened.

In response, FiveThirtyEight’s biggest NBA fans gathered to process the reported trade.

chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior sportswriter): I covered the Knicks for five years. Not their worst five, necessarily. But saw their worst season in franchise history. You’re naturally going to see them do things that make you scream, “Why?!” But this is a new level, even for me.

This Porzingis trade, if they don’t land a max-level star or two, is just befuddling.

tchow (Tony Chow, video producer/angry Knicks fan): I think I’m going to be a Brooklyn Nets fan now. Why the hell would you do this?

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Do we know what draft pick compensation they got, if any? Because that seems pretty important. (These details, which weren’t clear during the time of the chat, emerged shortly after we finished the conversation. New York will receive two future first-round picks in the trade.)

chris.herring: Not the exact terms, no. Though it seems really likely that the Mavs are going to give up something on that front.

natesilver: I guess I’d say this: The process by which the Knicks got to this point is crazy. The outcome, I think, might not be as bad as it seems at first glance. But it really depends on the pick(s).

chris.herring: More than anything, this was about allowing the Knicks to send over their bloated contracts so that they could clear salary cap space. Especially Tim Hardaway Jr., whose deal would’ve made it tough for them to add a second star next to Porzingis this summer.

neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Yeah, if there is a silver lining (Is there a silver lining?), they just freed up a massive amount of cap space.

tchow: Welcome to New York, Kevin Durant!!

chris.herring: Only spent seven or eight years there, but this is where my New York cynicism comes into play. The Knicks haven’t had a very good history when it comes to FAs.

natesilver: They also got a buy-low guy in Dennis Smith Jr., although it seems like they have about 14 other buy-low point guards on the roster right now.

tchow: But in losing Porzingis, doesn’t that make the Knicks a less attractive destination to come play? If you were a max player, why would you look at this team and say, “I want to go to there”?

natesilver: Well, yeah, that’s the catch.

tchow: I guess maybe two max players could buddy up and that nullifies what I just said.

natesilver: A team of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and … uuuhhhh, who’s the third-best player on that team? Smith Jr., I guess?

tchow: I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. This is INSANE!!! I’m still in shock.

chris.herring: If nothing else, I guess this all just surprises me because it speaks to one of two things. Either 1) You have that much confidence that a superstar is coming …

tchow: Well you’re forgetting Zion, Nate.

chris.herring: Or 2) Things had gotten so bad/toxic with Porzingis that you didn’t see how you could make it work with him anymore. They really had no obligation to give into this right now, even if he was unhappy.

neil: Right, he was only a restricted free agent after the season.

tchow: Well, Chris, if things have gotten that bad with Porzingis, you would think they were secretly shopping him around earlier. Is this really the best deal they could get? I find that hard to believe.

natesilver: It is worth keeping in mind that Porzingis has a serious injury that other guys have struggled to recover from, that he hadn’t reached superstar status yet, and that he was about to get expensive. The upside is so high, though, that you’d think a team, maybe a cap-constrained team, might have given up a little more.

chris.herring: Yep. I’m not blown away by the fact that they dealt him. It’s what they dealt him for.

natesilver: Getting technical, but his cap hold is only like $12 million this summer, so that was a big benefit too.

chris.herring: There are two or three different reasons to potentially deal him. I just don’t know that any of them were worth dealing him for that return.

natesilver:

tchow:

FIGHT!!

natesilver: No those don’t contradict. Sign the qualifying offer for one year. Then become a full-fledged free agent in summer 2020.

tchow: Oh damn … you’re right. OK … back to crying.

chris.herring: During the time I spent on the Knicks beat, I got used to watching them attach useful players to ones whose contracts were albatrosses. They traded Tyson Chandler (useful) to unload Raymond Felton (albatross). And Iman Shumpert (useful) to unload JR Smith (albatross).

natesilver: Were Hardaway and Lee that untradeable? They aren’t terrible players, and their contracts aren’t that bad.

chris.herring: Neither is a bad player. Maybe overpaid (I’ve definitely argued that with Hardaway).

natesilver: In some sense, everyone in the deal is a distressed asset.

chris.herring: If anything, Hardaway is just pricey because of what you want to accomplish this summer.

tchow: Watch Dennis Smith Jr. come out of this as the best player in the trade.

natesilver: It’s not nothing.

chris.herring: But Porzingis should not be the sweetener in any deal like this! He’s the lone All-Star changing hands here.

neil: Smith Jr. certainly got a lot of hype as a rookie last year.

tchow: KP 👏 IS 👏 A 👏 UNICORN

chris.herring: I’ll put it this way: Smith and his folks floated that he potentially wanted out of Dallas a week or two ago. That came and went, likely because no one felt like he was worth all that much. He’s explosive. He’s young enough to gamble something on. But he’s not even a clear starter in everyone’s eyes.

natesilver: So what else could they have gotten? What do we think the market price for Porzingis would be? Would Toronto have given up Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, for instance, and taken on either Hardaway or Lee but not both?

chris.herring: It was only 20 minutes or so before the trade reports came that this tweet went out.

natesilver: I’m just saying that if you clear the decks for two max free agents but you have a guy like Siakam making just $2.5 million a year, that gives you a lot more to work with.

chris.herring: Notice how smart we perceive those particular franchises to be. I saw someone say, “The smart franchises are circling the dumb one.” Almost like the Knicks were the prey here.

tchow: Right?? I keep thinking there must be other, better trades.

chris.herring: For sure. At least with Siakam, you have a good, athletic two-way player to build around.

tchow: This is all just us talking, right? There were no reports that Toronto was even looking to offer Siakam. Right? Right?

chris.herring: I honestly don’t know whether Smith will be a starter two or three years from now. There’s some faith because of how young he is, but he hasn’t shown consistency yet. And the Knicks haven’t been great with developing two-way talent at the guard spot lately.

natesilver: I wanna know about the draft pick(s) too. Dallas still owns its own pick if it’s 1-5 this year — otherwise it goes to Atlanta — and they’re probably still going to end up in the lottery.

neil: I think we are being very NYC-centric here and focusing on the Knicks’ angle. But for the Mavs, their new Doncic-Porzingis combo seems like it could eventually be very scary.

natesilver: NYC IS BASKETBALL MECCA, NEIL! SUCH A MECCA THAT THE ONLY GOOD PLAYER ON THE KNICKS IN THE PAST 10 YEARS GETS TRADED FOR CAP SPACE

neil: No, it’s not (“The Decline Of New York City As An NBA Talent Generator”).

tchow: No, Neil’s right. Forget the Knicks. I already have. Porzingis and Luka together is going to be amazing!! No way Dirk retires now.

chris.herring: Dallas is gonna be fun.

natesilver: Yeah, how did they do that? Turn the No. 5 pick and — Dennis Smith Jr.? — into Luka and Porzingis?

chris.herring: The Knicks were spending all this time trying to find a running mate for KP, and now Porzingis has Doncic.

tchow: So right now, we have them projected to be way out of the playoffs. When is Porzingis supposed to return? I’m getting ahead of myself

chris.herring: They’re relevant now. Even if they unloaded a hefty part of their rotation here to get Porzingis. But this was a great move for them.

natesilver: It was a little bit ambiguous. Dallas is tanking, obviously, so maybe they just play him for like six games to show he still had something left (as an inducement to free agents, etc.) and then find some excuse to shut him down.

chris.herring: Yeah. Porzingis probably wasn’t going to play for NYK this year. Maybe he gets into a few games for Dallas, but I doubt it.

natesilver: Yeah, they might as well tank too. Maybe not an outright tank, but they do keep their own pick if it’s 1-5.

chris.herring: If you’re the Mavs, this makes sense. You’ve still got Harrison Barnes under contract making a lot of money. Hardaway is under contract a couple more years.

tchow: “Makes sense” is such an understatement here.

natesilver: Don’t the Mavs have space for a max free agent too?

chris.herring: I don’t think so? Not with all the money they just took on.

This trade was their free agency, in a way. Dallas very quietly just hit us with a Nash/Dirk redux. Except Luka can score better than Nash, and Porzingis can defend.

natesilver: It looks like they should have cap space in 2020-21, though, when the Barnes/Powell contracts all come off the books.

chris.herring: Two or three years from now, they’ll have cap money again, and you imagine players would want to team up with a duo like that.

tchow: (if Porzingis signs)

chris.herring: Porzingis will be 25 in two years. Luka will be 22. Also, can we talk about the fact that the Mavs were at the Garden last night? And Mark Cuban was there. I imagine this topic came up.

natesilver: Ahhh didn’t think about that. But, yeah, it seems pretty weird to think this deal was just conjured up out of thin air.

tchow: They knew. They fucking knew.

chris.herring: Dennis Smith Jr. logged a triple-double.

natesilver: Haha.

tchow:

natesilver: Oh shit!!!!!

tchow: Look at that. That’s a “we’re going to be teammates” handshake.

natesilver: THE FIX WAS IN.

chris.herring: I soooo hope the Knicks — who could’ve drafted Smith but instead took Frank Ntilikina — weren’t enamored by his good game to where they said, “You know what? That sounds good to us.”

tchow: Chris, that is EXACTLY what happened.

chris.herring: What it all comes down to for the Knicks is free agency: If you land two guys who are truly worth it, it’s hard to look back at this and be angry.

tchow: And there is my silver lining.

chris.herring: But for the time being, it is just astounding.

natesilver: The Knicks also haven’t drafted very well. Kevin Knox is regarded as a future rotation piece, if not a star, and I sorta get why because he looks like a good player, but his numbers are unbelievably terrible.

chris.herring: Also: My favorite stat ever, from my Knick beat days: The Knicks haven’t re-signed one of their draft picks on a multiyear deal since Charlie Ward, who they took in 1994. Trading Porzingis keeps that alive.

natesilver: Wow. BASKETBALL MECCA.

tchow: That is insane.

chris.herring: So them wanting to build it through free agency is fitting.

natesilver: I think I have to go to their next home game just to see what a shitshow it is.

tchow: FiveThirtyEight field trip, Nate?

natesilver: I’m down, dude. At least tickets will be cheap.

tchow: Hey, at least we still have Allonzo Trier. And Enes Kanter is back. Things are looking up for the Knicks.

chris.herring: Not that it has any bearing on how this summer pans out. But I think their last four deals for $90 million or more were, in this order: Melo, Amar’e Stoudemire, Stephon Marbury and Allan Houston.

natesilver: I mean, just look at this shit:

tchow: My god that is … depressing.

natesilver: I guess their bigs have been OK? Noah Vonleh and Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson?

neil: Ooof, you were not kidding about Knox’s numbers, Nate.

natesilver: Yeah, Neil, and it’s not just some advanced stats thing. He’s shooting just 37 percent. Just 4.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks per game. For a guy who’s pretty athletic, that’s kind of sad.

neil: Maybe he’s on the Enes Kanter diet.

natesilver: Knox has a nice-looking 3-point stroke, and I guess you can say he’d get the numbers up if they weren’t tanking. That’s what’s a little hard to figure out on a team like the Knicks where they basically don’t have any incentive to work in their shot selection or to play defense.

tchow: If this is just going to become a shitting on Knox chat, I think it’s time to end it.

natesilver: I’m happy to also shit on other Knicks.

tchow: Just for fun, to end this chat, should we all say who we think won this trade?

chris.herring: Assuming the Knicks don’t land two absolute studs in FA, the Mavs.

natesilver: It’s clearly a good trade for Dallas. Where it ends up on the spectrum from “terrible” to “OK” for the Knicks depends on the draft picks and, yeah, the free agent situation.

chris.herring: Agreed, Nate. You just paired two of the best 25-and-under players in the league together. It could turn out to be a home run for both sides. I just don’t have that level of faith that everything will go right for New York.

natesilver: There is a downside risk with Porzingis, too, which is that he’s never really healthy again. But you do have a year to evaluate him before making a commitment. So the fact that he’s not looking to sign a long-term extension right away is both a bug and a feature.

chris.herring: I guess.

neil: And given the lengths we’ve seen teams go to just to have a chance to get a franchise-altering star, it seems worth it.

chris.herring: I’d be OK with that gamble if it means giving up DSJ and a pick. Dallas has always been willing to roll the dice on acquiring a star.

tchow: You know who won? NBA Twitter won cause this is going to provide so much content for the next few days/until Anthony Davis gets traded.

chris.herring: They even traded Tyson Chandler the summer after he was the linchpin to their title because they thought it’d allow them a chance at a star. They wanted to clear space.

neil: The NBA needs to push its trade deadline further from the Super Bowl.

Wait your turn, NBA! You’ll have the limelight next week.

chris.herring: NOPE. In fact, I hope Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign today, too.

micah (Micah Cohen, managing editor): My two cents: I lost because I’m waiting for Nate to file a piece about independent presidential campaigns and the Porzingis trade has, I’m sure, delayed it.

Check out our latest NBA predictions.

Significant Digits For Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.


‘Less than 50-50’

President Trump pegged the chances that a new group of 17 House and Senate members would be able to forestall another government shutdown by crafting a deal in the next three weeks at “less than 50-50.” [The Wall Street Journal]


4 product categories

(Sponsored by Mott & Bow) For many men, a t-shirt, a button down and a pair of jeans go a long way, but not all manufacturers think in terms of style and variety. Fortunately, one brand offers numerous options across 4 product categories. Their premium denim comes in 3 fits and over 10 washes, their button downs come in 4 colors and 2 styles with 2 collar options. And their tees, which they say are the “softest tees you will ever wear,” come in 2 sleeve lengths and 10 colors. With this many possibilities, it won’t be hard to put together a seemingly unlimited number of outfit options for work, weekends and more.


$3 billion lost

The five-week government shutdown cost $11 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO projected that $8 billion of that will be recouped during the rest of this year, while $3 billion will never be seen or heard from again. [Politico]


84 percent of firms

The White House hoped its huge $1.5 trillion tax cut package, which reduced the corporate tax rate, would “boost business spending and job growth.” However, 84 percent of respondents to a poll from the National Association of Business Economics said that the package “has not caused their firms to change hiring or investment plans.” There were exceptions: Fifty percent of goods-producing respondents did say that they’d increased investment. [Reuters]


More than 70 percent of House members

The House of Representatives is, ostensibly, representative. I mean, it’s in the name. But its members tend to follow specific and elite career paths before joining the body. More than 70 percent of current House members, for example, were lawyers in private practice, businesspeople or medical professionals. As a result, the House is “much, much richer than the people it represents.” [The New York Times]


3 dead, 172 hurt

A rare tornado — the first in decades, apparently caused by a cold front hitting Cuba’s northern coast — touched down in Havana. The Category F3 storm, with winds between 155 and 199 miles per hour, killed at least three people and injured 172. [Associated Press]


41 days

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders held her first press briefing in 41 days. The gap was the longest in the history of the administration. President Trump had told Sanders “not to bother” with the briefings. [Fox News]


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Trace Route Network Tool, Only On A Map

Tracert is a command thats elementary to networking and computers.  Trace Route or Tracert does exactly what it sounds like, and its useful cause it tells ya every ip address it passes through between the server and the catcher (not technical terms there).  It explains where speed issues are in a global perspective or in your home.

Its usually just text but https://www.monitis.com/traceroute/ made it more fun…and from this map I can see why my fiber connection isnt seemingly very fast tonight, I’m being routed through London, England to do a domestic “hop” (hops are each leg of a journey in a tracert.

tracert in SEO

The post Trace Route Network Tool, Only On A Map appeared first on Ultimate SEO.

Why Trump Blinked

President Trump blinked. The 35-day partial government shutdown appears to be ending.

From the start of the shutdown, congressional Democrats said they would not negotiate regarding Trump’s proposal for a border wall until the government reopened. Trump said he would not agree to legislation opening the government unless it included money for the border wall. That standoff lasted until Friday. Congress is expected to pass a bill that funds the government through Feb. 15 and does not include wall money, and Trump said that he would sign it in a Rose Garden address.

Why did Trump back down? Well, for all of the reasons we’ve been talking about for weeks. Polls consistently showed that the public was largely blaming the president, more than congressional Democrats, for the shutdown. That “blame Trump” view had recently gained more traction:

Moreover, Trump’s approval ratings were declining amid the impasse:

The public response had clear effects in Congress. Congressional Republicans had been unified behind the president in the early stages of the shutdown, but cracks started to emerge as it dragged on. In public, this was demonstrated on Thursday by six Senate Republicans voting for legislation put forward by Senate Democrats that would fund the government without money for the wall. And, in private, disagreement with the president’s strategy extended beyond those six. A meeting between Senate Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday reportedly turned into a venting session, with some senators scolding Pence for the White House’s strategy. Among the critics was Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has the power to bring forward legislation, whether Trump likes it or not.

We don’t know much about the private discussions between McConnell and the White House, but it’s possible that Trump folded in part because McConnell suggested Senate Republicans would likely move forward soon with legislation funding the government without paying for the wall — with or without the president’s support. Although Trump, in a Rose Garden speech on Friday, acted as if it were his decision to end the shutdown, the decision to fold may not truly have been Trump’s to make, and the speech may have been McConnell allowing the president to save face and concede before the Republicans in the Senate fully broke with him.

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To be clear, it’s not certain that Trump has lost the broader fight over the wall. It’s hard to see congressional Democrats offering much funding for it, but maybe they will agree to some kind of compromise that includes a few billion dollars. (I wouldn’t bet on this, as liberal Democratic opposition to the wall seems to be hardening.) Or, as he suggested on Friday, Trump could declare a national emergency and reallocate funds from other parts of the government to finance a wall. Such a move will almost certainly draw legal challenges. But Trump might win in the courts, as he (eventually) did on his executive order banning travel from certain countries into the United States.

For now, however, we’re back to where we were when the shutdown began. Trump and Congress have three weeks to figure out a solution. In public, at least, all sides are staking out the same positions they held when the shutdown started. Trump will likely need a different strategy going forward. The one he employed over the last month — shutting down the government (which is unpopular) to get the wall (which is unpopular) — could not keep his party united forever.

In short, it was another example that Trump is not immune to broader political dynamics, despite his surprising win in 2016. The health care policy legislation he was pushing for much of 2017 was deeply unpopularand it failed. He had high disapproval ratings going into the 2018 midterms — and his party lost a ton of House seats. And now, he pushed a shutdown strategy that seemed doomed to fail — and it did.