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Las Vegas Expansion

So the expansion draft is 10 months away for the Las Vegas Spearmint Rhinos, so how do they handle it? How do they allocate scouting resources: Let’s break it down.

The team has to grab 1 player from every team and the minimum are:
3 Goalies
9 Defensemen
14 Forwards

With a minimum payroll of $43.8mm. The league is apparently allowing a window the Las Vegas can negotiate deals with other teams about any and all under the sun.

So how do you play it?

First off, you have a plethora of players to choose from, both in quantity and quality. In theory, you can get close to the minimum payroll and load up with young players and at the same time you can load up on big contracts and have a playoff caliber team in the short term, but it is necessary to balance both short term and long term goals going forward.

An optimal theory would be to have a balance of 4-5 contracts that expire each year over the next 4 years, with fewer in year 1 and more at year 3 & 4. The expansion draft selections would be based on the above along with maximizing value over the next 10 years, so deferring picks is needed.

Other teams will want to unload poorly performing contracts while trying to protect young players who still haven’t fulfilled their upside. Most of those players are not top 6 F or top 4 D and any talent/exposure mismatches will largely be dealt with.

A cursory talent evaluation of the players exposed would suggest a surplus of players that are replacement level to + at both G & D paid close to the minimum and a bifurcation of forwards: Most are bottom 6 on the cheap, yet enough top 6 types that are productive, yet underperforming their contract. Luckily most of them are on contracts that will expire between 1-3 years after the team’s 1st season.

In my view of roster construction, I want to grab the minimal number of contracts that get me to  $43.8mm, while my final budget is mid $50mm that sheds $10mm contracts annually over the following 3-4 years. Beyond that I’m trying to accumulate multiple draft picks going forward over the next 3 to 5 years. You do your league wide roster evaluation as part of your due diligence, then I would suggest the following:

Announce to the other teams my payroll/draft plans at some point, then invite them to a sealed bid auction where the bids would be opened after protection lists would be submitted.  The best offers(those unloading bad contracts coupled with x amount of draft picks that can be claimed over the next 5 years) get taken early, while the others just likely lose the best player available.

This way I force the other teams to spend their resources working out their game theory(while in a prisoner’s dilemma) of making sure their worst assets get unloaded by giving up other picks with none of it binding to my team. No haggling, just their best offer(s). The other teams can conspire all they want, but it’s self defeating. Even if only a third of the league really needs to unload a turkey, it’s still enough to keep them honest and drive up prices for secondary contracts(this is where I’d love game theory input.)

The only time I contact other teams is in the window after protected lists are announced, then I start swinging surplus players(likely D & G) around for more picks and (maybe) prospects. Just accumulating RD staggered in the pipeline should do wonders over the years.

Year 1 I want top end picks who can play in year 2-4, subsequently I want best player available early followed by elite level players who slip because of anything but undersized and lack of physicality.  Tough to get em big enough in the former, can’t teach the latter.

Year 2-5 will have tons of cap space, but signing top end talent not a given, not sure blocking the way of picks advisable as draft pool looks better going forward from 2019. Would rather do short term over 30 deals for guys with the right work ethic, bring them into the community.

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Ukraine/Russia

Look, Putin lost the plot a long time ago and his actions are of a man who doesn’t have true plans to lead his country forward, but let’s get real: he personally will never be liable for any of what has happened in the Crimea or Ukraine.

Now the country he nominally leads should be held accountable for their leaders failure in his job. You don’t get to play with the big boys if you can’t play nice. Rip the 2018 FIFA WC tomorrow. Out of the G7. Refuse admission to the WTO. Accelerate the construction of LNG terminals in Western Europe, Germany needs to restart nuke plants(for now.) Cast Russian companies out of Western capital markets. Start canceling visas for all Russians, not just the oligarchs. Squeeze their feet, let them go back to the rump of a Soviet Empire and get their pineapple from Vietnam.

Russia is the worst of all worlds: a farce of a democracy, zero rule of law and economic inequality. We need to help the Russian people make a decision much like the Ukrainians (people the Russians see as hillbillies even though it was the cradle of the Russian people) chose: do you want to go forward or go back?

Italy

You know what I love about Rome? I can wander by sites like Trajan’s Column, the Pantheon and not care. That I can buy Ray-Ban Wayfarers & phony wayfarers side-by-side. That I can get gelato & froyo within yards of each other. That I can get honest-to-goodness faux Roman armor next to a MickeyD’s.

You know what I can’t do? (Cue Having Fun Onstage With Elvis music)

I can’t find a cellphone store to save my life.

I’m gonna be here 5 days, have an unlocked phone. I can probably buy enough(2GB) data to last me for €20, which is cheaper than any 120MB overage from my carrier. Except I can’t find one anywhere.

In Spain they’re 10 a penny, even the bum on the street with no legs can get you one any has the stapler that crimps a regular SIM card into one that will fit my phone.

Italy? I tried in Palermo, but nobody had any because they had sold them all to Al Queda. Rome? As rare as an honest cabbie.

If we really want a friction free world in Telco, can we effing get on with it already?

A brother from another mother just asked me how I find places to drink when on the road. I forgot to mention that it’s mostly by a lot of trial & error, but below is what largely followed:

In Europe or in general? In Europe I google for an Irish pub. If they got Irishmen behind the bar, I ask them where they would go. I’d never go anywhere in the book if I couldn’t help it. If they tell you that everybody goes there, go in the opposite direction.

Anywhere else? Look up my 5 favorite baby bands, cross reference the bars they play by town and start from there. Either that or look for anything old man bar near hotel as long as it doesn’t give off a biker/meth lab vibe.

I’ve been getting tons of anti-GMO posts thru my Facebook feed and I just want to provide a blanket response so I don’t have to deal with this much longer.

Any hybridization encouraged by man, by definition, is a Genetically Modified Organism. People crossbreed things and choose desirable traits and cull out the bad ones(they hope.) Out the other end comes donut peaches & Labradoodles. Also comes cats with 5 legs & bulldogs who have to give birth by C-section because the pups have Oprah sized skulls. To call it scattershot is an insult to shotguns.

What the scaremongers would like to define GMO as(and I don’t have a problem with it as long as we have internationally defined terms for trade purposes) is that someone plucks a specific gene from one plant(or animal) into a different type of plant(or animal,) like that goat that produces spider silk in its milk. That would be more akin to transgenics.

Do I want transgenic plants/animals? It depends. Glow in the dark fish/cats? Awesome. If I could get glow in the dark corn on the cob every once in a while that tasted like roadstand silver corn, sure. Is it corn on the cob that poisons ants/aphids/butterflies? No. Do I want giant sunflowers cross bred with Venus fly traps to eat small animals & children who try and get on my property? With a few exceptions, no. Little cats that look like tigers? Straight gene manipulation would probably be more humane than the “natural” crossbreeding that goes on currently.

Genetic modification is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. The questions are this:
1: Are there protocols in place to prevent bad things happening?
2: What are they and are they adequate
3: is the information freely available for others to look at?
4: How does this benefit society?

Do I want agri-pharma supplying monocultures? No, they are potentially harmful to food security.

Do I want them restraining trade? No. Patents on items that come from nature is an affront to society. If farmers want sterile seed stock, more power to them if the benefits outweigh the costs; but it’s usually a false economy.

I screw around with citrus. Every once in a blue moon’s blue moon, you get a happy accident like a Mineola. To get that happy accident they had to cross pollinate varieties, plant them, let the grow until they set fruit and look at the results. It is painstakingly laborious and time consuming, with tens of thousands of dead ends. If you could decode the citrus genome, then make educated guesses which genes you wanted to tamper with to get a lime the size of a grapefruit so you could make Key Lime Pies that much cheaper(yet keep the rest of the genome intact,) isn’t that acceptable, desirable(even if you don’t love Key Lime Pie, which in any case you’re dead to me) and reasonable? I’m not talking about limes the size of grapefruits that have wings and fly to my basket when ripe like salmon returning home to spawn.

It’s not a binary question to GMO; it’s costs/benefits, it’s honest talk based on science and not on emotion. I’d say that a rational group of people could suss it out in a day, but I think rational people are hard to come by these days.

So I’m in the new BCN terminal as a passenger for the 1st time and I’ll say this: They sure do have the shopping down. Air conditioning, notsomuch. I swear it’s cooler outside than in, because I just spent 10 minutes outside in the massive smokers lounge (bigger than a soccer pitch) cooling off. But I digress. What I wanted to right about was a certain lack of customer service in the Spanish airline industry.

Due to a whole host of factors I’m thisclose to qualifying for British Airways frequent flier gold tier. I don’t know what that entails beyond having my rental car nicked out from under me if I ever rent a car @ Heathrow Terminal 5, but it’s the target. In theory after I get back to the States I’ll be over the finish line before the Aug 1 deadline. So I’m flying to Sicily on Vueling(which is a BA codeshare and the company that owns both airlines is the same) and I asked the guy at the check in counter if I can get the flight tacked on to my frequent flier card.

“No problem, you just have to do it with BA.”

Okay, fair enough. I walk over to the Iberia\ BA ticket counter (Iberia is part of the same holding company) and ask if they can get this squared away.

“No, only Vueling can do this.”

But it’s a BA codeshare

“Only Vueling can do this.”

But you OWN Vueling AND British Airways

“No, only Vueling can do this.”

Can’t you even swipe my card and take a look? It’s not like you’re the only person at the counter(4 folks staffing) and there’s a huge line behind me(no line.)

“No”

(Internal voice)F*ck you very much (Insert huge eye roll here.) Aaand it’s over. Go through security and then it hits me. They ask to see my bag.

Vale(Sure.)

“What is this?”

A hand holding an apple that knocks on the door.

“Porque?’

I repeat.

“Seguridad!”

So they make me rip open the packaging and show them that it’s actually a hand that holds an apple that knocks on the door. They ask me what it’s made of and I have no idea what the spanish word for brass is.

It’s days like this that make me wonder the Spaniards have this tourist thing figured out.

Porch

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